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U-turn revealed on cuts to cricket reporting service used by regional press

Reporters who provide regional press cricket coverage will be present at more games this summer after an apparent U-turn on proposed job cuts.

HTFP reported last week how the Cricket Writers’ Club had warned regional titles they were set to “lose significant provision” of their coverage of the sport due to proposed cuts to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s central Reporters Network service.

The number of reporters working for the service, which provides match reports of professional games for a number of regional titles across the country, was due to be cut from 18 to six for the 2021 season, with those remaining covering two games concurrently – one in person and one remotely – for the service.

However, the CWC has now reported the ECB has committed to providing “eye-witness” reporters at every County Championship and T20 Blast match over the summer.

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The Club has welcomed the move, but says it is “disappointed” there are no current plans for the network to cover the 50-pver Royal London Cup with eye-witness reporters at every game.

Coverage of the equivalent women’s competitions is yet to be confirmed.

In a statement, the CWC said: “The Cricket Writers’ Club welcomes the commitment that has now been made by the ECB to ensure an eye-witness reporter will be present at every LV= Insurance County Championship and Vitality Blast match as part of the ECB Reporters’ Network – the agency style set-up that provides written-word coverage of domestic cricket to local, regional and national media outlets.

“Reporters’ Network coverage of the equivalent women’s competitions, the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, and Regional T20 is yet to be confirmed.

“CWC fervently hopes ECB will find and allocate the funds needed (estimated £5000 total) to ensure equality of coverage of these competitions, with eye witness reporters at every game as a fully integrated part of the network, as per the men’s.

“It is also hoped that wordage provided will match the men’s, given the new professional status of the women’s domestic game.”

Reporters working for the sevice were previously set to be limited to a maximum of 300 words for their reports at the end of each day’s play.

This has now been increased to 400 words plus quotes from players and coaches.

The CWC added: “As well as quotes at the end of every match, there is a welcome return to reporters additionally filing quotes at the end of every day’s play in the Championship as in previous years, thus giving players and coaches a voice, and giving media outlets the opportunity to create lead stories.

“The service does remain reduced compared to previous years as online text blogs and live broadcasts will feel the loss of County Championship lunch and tea updates that were distributed into newsrooms, no feature articles will be provide and all match reports will be shorter.

“CWC is pleased however that the ECB has taken on board feedback from the media on its value and use of the Network, as sought and collated by the club.

“It remains a regret that ECB failed to consult with CWC and users of the network prior to deciding initial cut backs, and we had hoped a collaborative solution could be found to ensure full coverage of all competitions.

“We hope there is still scope for this from stakeholders within the game, if ECB are unable to fund directly themselves. The network plays such a vital role in ensuring the widespread visibility of the ECB’s own domestic game.”

HTFP has approached the ECB for a comment.