ECB changes leave Associates in limbo
The decision by the England board to dump 50-over cricket and return to the original 40-over format first introduced 40 years ago has left Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands waiting on the ECB to clarify if they are going to be invited to join the party.
Assuming they are invited to participate in the new, primarily Sunday, competition – and with 21 teams in the mix and only 18 counties, it seems likely that two if not all three of them will be - then it will be a mixed blessing. All three are aware that while the exposure to top-level domestic cricket can only be good, all their international one-day games are 50-over matches and so in terms of preparing them for that the new structure falls short of expectations.
The decision to scrap the 50-over Friends Provident Trophy was largely driven by the counties who have always found it easier to market the shorter format.
Scotland, however, appear to have jumped the gun. While there has been no announcement from the ECB, Roddy Smith, Cricket Scotland’s CEO, told reporters that he was “delighted to be invited to take part,” adding: “I think we have a lot of 50-over cricket planned for next year anyway.”
Ireland, however, have yet to be formally invited, and Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland’s chief executive, gave the changes a guarded reception. "It would be a big thing to be asked to take part in the ECB's 40-over competition, and one that we'd have to take very seriously," he told Cricinfo. "But currently, 50-over cricket is our bread and butter, and the standard by which we are judged internationally."
Scotland – are Ireland and Netherlands assuming they join in – will play a minimum of 12 matches in a seven-team group stage.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa