The ECB are proposing to make significant changes to the structure of county cricket
Cricket bosses look set to ratify a significant revamp of domestic cricket at their board meeting later this month and some of the changes are certainly things which players have been consistently advocating for years.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposal is to reduce the number of County Championship fixtures from 16 to 14 per side, while the Twenty20 and 50-over competitions are set to be given greater prominence and played in a mid-summer block, rather than throughout the season.
At the moment it is virtually impossible for a bowler to stay fit throughout the whole season given the amount of cricket played, and that volume doesn’t really allow that guy to play in all formats of the game.
I would like to have seen the proposals go a step further and the number of four-day games reduced to 12, although 14 is a step forward. Eight days of cricket doesn’t sound a lot but it is in such a crammed calendar.
The reduction has the potential to increase the intensity of domestic cricket for two reasons. Firstly, there will be more riding on each game and, seondly, players will be fresher and more able to play at full tilt.
Such changes might not be for everybody. Traditionalists who have grown up watching four-day cricket and aren’t mad keen on Twenty20 will probably object but it’s 2015 not 1990 and the game is changing.
If it wasn’t for this country Test cricket would probably be dead in all honesty. In many ways we keep it going because we still hold it as the pinnacle of what a player can achieve. That won’t change should these changes be enacted.
It’s more about adapting to the modern world. Twenty20 cricket has become such a massive spectacle around the world, you only have to look at the Big Bash and the Indian Premier League.
For the good of the T20 competition, staging it as a block of fixtures makes perfect sense. For one, guys can concentrate on their skill-set over a period of time rather than interchanging between formats continuously.
Clubs will perhaps miss out financially to begin with. The Friday night matches this season at the Kia Oval, for instance, were hugely popular but for the good of the game I believe the suggested changes have merit.
Having it in a block would also appeal to players around the world, the sort of competitors that fans want to see. The likes of AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle cannot commit to the whole T20 Blast tournament at present, they can barely commit to half of it. That could all change if the fxtures were structured in a different way.
Getting the best players over here will give domestic players and potentially future internationals the chance to compete with and against top talent from around the globe. That can only be an advantage when the time comes to represent England at multi-nation tournaments.
I have written previously that in this country we always seem to be looking towards the next World Cup in whatever limited overs competition it is, but nothing seems to change to facilitate a better outcome when that compeition rolls around.
It remains to be seen whether these changes, if they are brought in, will have a tangible benefit, but increasing the standard and intensity of tournaments can only be a positive step.