August 24, 2012

England demands wreck climax to county season

And so another summer of Test cricket has reached its conclusion
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And so another summer of Test cricket has reached its conclusion. The infuriatingly abridged three-match series against South Africa has been lost 2-0. England outplayed. Their reputation for planning and preparation undermined by determined batting, quality fast bowling and modern forms of communication that allow you to instantly converse with thousands of people across the globe but are seemingly incapable of passing the message “I’ll buy you a beer if you stop being a prat” to a team-mate at the other side of the dressing room.

For a second successive year we have witnessed the No. 1-ranked Test side dethroned, with South Africa now rightfully acknowledged as the best cricket side in the world: an abundantly talented team, well led and deserving of nothing but admiration. Yet somehow the sight of Graeme Smith parading the ICC Test mace on The Oval outfield left me hoping that the NASA Curiosity mission to Mars was the first faltering step towards finding another habitable planet on which to rebuild humanity. Perhaps that’s just disappointment?

In years gone by that kind of dissatisfaction at a series defeat would have been partially numbed by the knowledge that a month of the County Championship was left to be played out. A month of games in which England players would take full part. A month when rest was a four-letter word.

There are still three rounds of the Championship, Twenty20 finals day and the conclusion of the CB40 to be played this season. But there’ll be precious little opportunity to see England players turning out for their county side as the demands of the international schedule encroach ever more on to the domestic cricket.

The extent of that was laid bare by Wednesday’s ECB announcement about player availability for the rest of the season. It was a list as long as Steve Finn’s arm and as sobering as the role call scene at the end of Zulu. Twenty players missing for most or all of the remainder of the season. Twenty!

Particularly hard hit are Nottinghamshire. As thanks to five of their first team being in the England Twenty20 squad they’ll go into their final Championship game against Warwickshire severely weakened – a situation compounded by Warwickshire having Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott and Chris Woakes cleared to play in what could still prove to be the deciding match of this year’s County Championship.

Given the importance of that game you’d expect it to be the one covered as Sky’s traditional final Championship match of the season. Frustrating then that on a rare opportunity for the domestic first-class game to get some national media exposure, what should be a set piece contest between two of this year’s top counties will be overshadowed and unbalanced by England demands.

But then that is the lot of the Championship: a contest that can be pushed to one side to make way for more profitable forms of the game; a contest that’s as much ignored by the ICC Future Tours Programme as common sense or the need for international players to have a home life.

Not all of that can be laid at the door of the ECB, of course. It’s not their fault that Nottinghamshire have produced a crop of quality one-day players. And I doubt they have much more say in the scheduling of the World Twenty20 than they do the content of Piers Morgan’s Twitter feed.

But they could at least communicate player availability in a clear, consistent manner. Whether Yorkshire would agree they achieve that is debatable, as the announcement that Tim Bresnan was unavailable for Twenty20 finals day was at odds with the county’s previous understanding that he could play and came as an unpleasant shock for a side preparing for their first ever appearance on finals day.

Perhaps that was just a genuine misunderstanding when the ECB press release was first drafted - it’s worth noting that it has now been re-worded to reflect Yorkshire’s original understanding - but it does highlight the need for more effective communication, whether it be with a county relying on the return of a key allrounder or with a talented, unsettled individual.

Which brings us back to one man who has been made available for the remainder of the county programme – Kevin Pietersen. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for old Kev hasn’t it? Not least his appearance for Surrey at Southampton on Sunday, which was greeted by boos from a section of the crowd followed by cheers from most of it when he was dismissed for a golden duck.

That kind of reception is perhaps understandable given Pietersen’s record of seven Championship appearances during his six years at Hampshire, which didn’t leave the supporters feeling he was the most committed player they’ve ever had on their books. What will be more revealing is his reception elsewhere on the circuit.

KP may be no stranger to a hostile crowd – he’s twice toured his native South Africa - but will someone who sees himself as a leading man be content to be county cricket’s pantomime villain? If Pietersen’s time as an England international is at an end, we may also be seeing the end of him in English cricket as a whole.

There might be some who welcome that, but Pietersen is a rare talent, one who could help shine a spotlight on county cricket at a time when world class players are rarely made available.

Kenny Shovel has never sat in a press box or charged a match programme to expenses

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Richard on August 29, 2012, 22:48 GMT

    On Giles's dual role, if the other national selectors felt that Giles was favouring not selecting his own players its unlikely he would be in his role for much longer, and as Ian said Chopra and especially Woakes wouldn't play so many Lions games. The scheduling does feel wrong, specifically with the Lions games around the crucial stages of the season but in Woakes' case he will have played 8 matches this season, half missing from injury and half from Lions and being an unused player in ODI squads - that hardly strikes me as favouring his own county. Warwickshire will also be without Porterfield and Rankin with their involvement with Ireland in the T20 tournament and have lost their overseas bowler Jeetan Patel for 3 of the last 4 games so all counties are affected by call ups, its just on this occassion Warwickshire got the rub of the green and on other occassions they do not.

  • Mac72 on August 29, 2012, 22:38 GMT

    We all lose player, every large county, just like we are all variably effected by the weather, its one of the facts of cricketing life. Somerset are my team, therefore I can only really accurately comment on our situation, but we have lost Butler, Keiswetter, George Dockrell to full call ups, Nick Compton for the Lions and the Overtons on Junior International call up. This is in an already injury ravaged season, but it happens and you have to be proud of your counties players having made it to the highest stage rather than complaining about lost opportunities in a championship that is more than partially decided by the propensity for rain that year.

    P.S I cannot believe that Notts fans appear to have been reduced to pretending that it is a conspiracy to deny them the championship orchestrated by Ashley Giles, I mean anyone who witnessed him bowl could never believe he could orchestrate anything at all.

  • Clam on August 29, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Even if Giles is not, and never has abused his position, such a conflict of interest is not acceptable.

  • Dan D on August 29, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Notts may have known that Broad and Taylor had England potential, but they did at least develop that potential and should be congratulated for it. Similarly, they developed Hales and Patel from the youth set-up, and Swann was nowhere near the best spin bowler in the world when he joined. Mick Newell's got a habit of getting improvement from players with potential, which is a credit not only to Notts, but to England. They even brought Pietersen over and developed him properly to help him become the player he is today. It's a fact of life that they'll lose players for England duty, but they should at least be commended for it, and not sneered at like some "money club" who're just throwing cash around to sign prestige players.

  • Ian Taylor on August 29, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    Bell hasn't played a T20 international since Jan 2011, Trott since Feb 2010. They were never under consideration for the World T20, so releasing them to play for their county once their international season is over is hardly a questionable move. Varun Chopra was pulled out of a crucial CB40 match v Sussex to play a meaningless game for the Lions. If Giles was abusing his position that wouldn't have happened.

  • Kenny Shovel on August 29, 2012, 13:35 GMT

    Apologies for any delay in authorizing your comments. I'm only at the keyboard intermittently at the moment.

  • David Smith on August 29, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    A starting point in reducing international cricket would be cutting out pointless series that are designed only to make money and keep SKY happy (I refer of course to this "summer's" Australia tour). I agree that 3 ODIs per tour is plenty. The ridiculous day-night games in England must also end. On the subject of SKY, my objection is not that they cover the international game but that they bought the game of cricket in it's entirety (excluding the dreadful IPL).Surely some live county cricket could be shown for those of us who don't have the "luxury" of a SKY subscription? Particularly now that Mr Murdoch's halo has slipped and he can no longer bash the BBC quite as much!

  • Rob Collins on August 29, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    I don't think anyone is saying that Ian, however the conflict of interest is clear to see.

  • Ben McNally on August 29, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    @ Gordon Todd,

    Don't forget that during the humiliating tour of Australia in 2006-2007 it was only once KP had gone home injured that England kicked on and won the 1 day series.

    It's been an unfortunate year for the county championship as a whole, mainly due to the awful weather. If every county had their superstars available for the final run in, it might still not liven things up as we are currently still being influenced by the higher powers of the English summer. It matters not who the 11 men listed are if they're all sitting in the pavillion.

  • Ian Taylor on August 29, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    So England's selection policy is based on ensuring Warwickshire win the title? The US government allowed 9/11 to happen and JFK, Lord Lucan and Diana are alive and well.

  • Richard on August 29, 2012, 22:48 GMT

    On Giles's dual role, if the other national selectors felt that Giles was favouring not selecting his own players its unlikely he would be in his role for much longer, and as Ian said Chopra and especially Woakes wouldn't play so many Lions games. The scheduling does feel wrong, specifically with the Lions games around the crucial stages of the season but in Woakes' case he will have played 8 matches this season, half missing from injury and half from Lions and being an unused player in ODI squads - that hardly strikes me as favouring his own county. Warwickshire will also be without Porterfield and Rankin with their involvement with Ireland in the T20 tournament and have lost their overseas bowler Jeetan Patel for 3 of the last 4 games so all counties are affected by call ups, its just on this occassion Warwickshire got the rub of the green and on other occassions they do not.

  • Mac72 on August 29, 2012, 22:38 GMT

    We all lose player, every large county, just like we are all variably effected by the weather, its one of the facts of cricketing life. Somerset are my team, therefore I can only really accurately comment on our situation, but we have lost Butler, Keiswetter, George Dockrell to full call ups, Nick Compton for the Lions and the Overtons on Junior International call up. This is in an already injury ravaged season, but it happens and you have to be proud of your counties players having made it to the highest stage rather than complaining about lost opportunities in a championship that is more than partially decided by the propensity for rain that year.

    P.S I cannot believe that Notts fans appear to have been reduced to pretending that it is a conspiracy to deny them the championship orchestrated by Ashley Giles, I mean anyone who witnessed him bowl could never believe he could orchestrate anything at all.

  • Clam on August 29, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Even if Giles is not, and never has abused his position, such a conflict of interest is not acceptable.

  • Dan D on August 29, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Notts may have known that Broad and Taylor had England potential, but they did at least develop that potential and should be congratulated for it. Similarly, they developed Hales and Patel from the youth set-up, and Swann was nowhere near the best spin bowler in the world when he joined. Mick Newell's got a habit of getting improvement from players with potential, which is a credit not only to Notts, but to England. They even brought Pietersen over and developed him properly to help him become the player he is today. It's a fact of life that they'll lose players for England duty, but they should at least be commended for it, and not sneered at like some "money club" who're just throwing cash around to sign prestige players.

  • Ian Taylor on August 29, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    Bell hasn't played a T20 international since Jan 2011, Trott since Feb 2010. They were never under consideration for the World T20, so releasing them to play for their county once their international season is over is hardly a questionable move. Varun Chopra was pulled out of a crucial CB40 match v Sussex to play a meaningless game for the Lions. If Giles was abusing his position that wouldn't have happened.

  • Kenny Shovel on August 29, 2012, 13:35 GMT

    Apologies for any delay in authorizing your comments. I'm only at the keyboard intermittently at the moment.

  • David Smith on August 29, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    A starting point in reducing international cricket would be cutting out pointless series that are designed only to make money and keep SKY happy (I refer of course to this "summer's" Australia tour). I agree that 3 ODIs per tour is plenty. The ridiculous day-night games in England must also end. On the subject of SKY, my objection is not that they cover the international game but that they bought the game of cricket in it's entirety (excluding the dreadful IPL).Surely some live county cricket could be shown for those of us who don't have the "luxury" of a SKY subscription? Particularly now that Mr Murdoch's halo has slipped and he can no longer bash the BBC quite as much!

  • Rob Collins on August 29, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    I don't think anyone is saying that Ian, however the conflict of interest is clear to see.

  • Ben McNally on August 29, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    @ Gordon Todd,

    Don't forget that during the humiliating tour of Australia in 2006-2007 it was only once KP had gone home injured that England kicked on and won the 1 day series.

    It's been an unfortunate year for the county championship as a whole, mainly due to the awful weather. If every county had their superstars available for the final run in, it might still not liven things up as we are currently still being influenced by the higher powers of the English summer. It matters not who the 11 men listed are if they're all sitting in the pavillion.

  • Ian Taylor on August 29, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    So England's selection policy is based on ensuring Warwickshire win the title? The US government allowed 9/11 to happen and JFK, Lord Lucan and Diana are alive and well.

  • Rob Collins on August 28, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    The most important element of all this is the one Gordon Todd raises. The conflict of interest in the twin roles of Ashley Giles. When the England T20 was being picked, do you really think he was urging Ian Bell to be picked above Michael Lumb. He has to resign from one of his roles.

    With regard to Notts, it's interesting to note that despite the accusations of 'poaching', they still managed to be the only county to make a profit in each of the last two seasons, and are in fact in the bottom half of counties when it comes to paying salaries. It's called being a well run club.

  • Kenny Shovel on August 28, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    William:

    My understanding is that the money left to Sussex in the will of their former President, Spen Cama, can only be used on ground development otherwise it becomes liable to taxation. Although you could argue that this frees up money for other things such as player signings.

    Nice to see how the development of Hove is coming along. I remember seeing the plans on display towards the end of the 2009(?) season. The new groundsman at Hove, Andy Mackay, was also about to start a process of relaying the square over the course of the next few winters. Any Sussex fans know how that is progressing?

  • William Franklin on August 28, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    Out of interest, how many home grown players are Surrey fielding today? Rather a lot I think. Is the reputation of Surrey somewhat unfair given sides like Sussex have used benefactors cash rather a lot in recent seasons (Panesar, Khan etc).

  • Kevin J Davis on August 28, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    Remember Somerset. Our season has been equally disrupted; Buttler, Kieswetter, Compton to name three who, its seems when not injured, have been AWOL on various England duties for much of the year. Add to this Dockrell off overseas for Ireland on U19 duty, one wonders if we are ever to win the CC we should look next year to pack the sqaud with older players of ability who have definitely been dropped by 'team England'. It would make an interesting analysis to see, in addition to the normal end of season days lost calculations, if there is a correlation between players lost to England and final CC position.

  • Paul Carew on August 27, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    The fixture list is a mess and there is too much international cricket played whether or not it is Tests or O.D.I's and that is the reason that there is a clash right to the end of the season whereby players can't play for their counties as they are busy playing internationals. Because SKY hold all the cards this will not change. The international season used to end on August bank holiday Monday with the last day of the final test. The most annoying aspect of all this is that county players get called out of important matches to go and play for the Lions often against inferior opposition whereas their time might be better served playing in a more competitive LVCC game.

  • Michael Pyke on August 27, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    The point that is surely being missed in this repetitive country v. county debate is that, unless the total audience for cricket is greatly expanded, there is no solution. Most people have only so much time for watching cricket. Expanding the international programme in order to subsidise domestic cricket merely results in the further decline of attendances at the latter, which then requires even more subsidy...ad infinitum.

    The 2005 Ashes series provided a great opportunity to reinstate cricket as our national summer game but, having been sold off to Rupert Murdoch, cricket has, instead, become almost invisible. The media profile of domestic cricket is now little higher than that of hockey and there is not the slightest sign of anything changing.

  • Gordon Todd on August 26, 2012, 19:33 GMT

    Taylor and Broad (both, incidentally, like Harry Gurney, born in Nottingham) were both taken on the staff at Notts before they had played Test cricket. Swann played for some years at Trent Bridge before his second chance with England. None, so far as I am aware, were brought kicking and screaming to the club. No-one could have expected Taylor to be playing Test cricket this year. He has scored one 50 and one 100 for Notts this season. The unavailability of all these Notts players in the championship run in (as opposed to those of Warwickshire) will cause questions about Ashley Giles' two roles to resurface. KP. His sides do quite well when he doesn't play for them. Notts won nothing during his four years there. When he left they won the championship, and were later to win it again and finish second twice. England won the 2009 Ashes (largely) without him, and the 2012 Australia 1-dayers. Could it be that the more cohesive dressing room atmosphere compensates for his missing runs?

  • Kenny Shovel on August 26, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    JL:

    Counties don’t act like premiership football teams. Players don’t develop injuries just before internationals then recover immediately afterwards. Country comes before county.

    The ECB do a lot of good with the money they earn. At grassroots with Chance to Shine. At domestic level by helping fund the counties. And yes, development tours abroad that give players valuable experience.

    But exactly how could the ECB earn the income for all that without a viable product to sell? The England selectors didn’t find players like Bairstow and Finn under a gooseberry bush; they’ve been nurtured for years by their counties. It would be nice if the critics of county cricket acknowledged that its relationship to the international team is co-dependent rather than parasitical.

    So my article isn’t a demand for a repeal of central contracts, more a lament that the current international schedule means there is little chance to see England’s best cricketers in the flesh without paying top dollar.

  • Patrick Clarke on August 26, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    Excessive scheduling of international cricket, especially completely pointless ODI Series such as the recent one with Australia are completely strangling the domestic season. Yes international cricket at the moment might make a lot more money than domestic cricket but I wonder whether this will still be the case in years to come with the same 6 or 7 international sides playing each other over and over again. I wonder how many people would still go to soccer matches if a similar programme was in place, eg England playing Germany, Brazil and Spain over and over again and leading players like Rooney and Gerrard only playing for their clubs 2 or 3 times a season. Unless curbed soon it will all turn into one big bore, even England v Australia if matches continue to be scheduled every year. Let's at least try and make some space for international players to play at least 3 or 4 county championship matches each season.

  • JL on August 25, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    I see the counties learnt nothing after the 90's and only think self, self, self. How many counties have received the benefit of not actually having to pay these players, and those on the cusp of the team that go on Performance squads coming back with more experience. The funding is especially relevant in these times when counties are struggling for funds, would Broad playing for notts be a benefit for the club? probably not as it wouldnt put any more bums on seats, the same goes for swann. Maybe the counties should look at themselves and how they can develop thier own internal talents to replace those missing for internationals.

    time have changed and the counties are no longer king, and they need to realise this.....

  • Neil Robinson on August 25, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    @Paul. I think there's one slight adjustment that could be made regarding the two full day gap between ODIs. Whilst completely understandable in geographically dispersed areas (India / Australia / South Africa) such a global rule makes no sense in England etc. 1 full day is more than enough. To be honest playing at Lords/The Oval, Trent Bridge/Edgbaston, Leeds/Manchester(or Chester-le-Street) could be 2 straight days. That way 5 ODIs could be fitted in in 1 week

  • Paul Hobbs on August 24, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    We all know what Pieterson is. Talented with the bat but no sense of team ethic,manners,overblown ego,no loyalty to anyone but himself. England should be glad to see him gone like South Africa were. We have players for now and the future that can play as a TEAM like South Africa play,for each other. as to player availability we play too may ODI's and not enough 5 or 4 day cricket. Test matches are vital. It should be a max of 3 ODI's per country not five. When No 1 test team plays No 2 it should be and 5 match series. Fewer matches against the weaker teams. The ECB should a long hard look at player workload and their own greed.

  • Kenny Shovel on August 24, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    Hi Neil,

    The signing policy of clubs like Notts & Surrey never fail to raise the hackles do they! Perhaps ‘produce’ wasn’t the correct phrase to cover all of the players Notts have in the Twenty20 World Cup squad.

    You're also right that other clubs have been hard done by. I can't imagine Lancs are very happy at Anderson not being available for their final game as they try to avoid relegation. But unfortunately I have only so much space and had already written 900 words of what is supposed to be a 800 word article. I used the Notts v Warwickshire game as a high profile (for the CC) example of a wider issue.

    Keep in mind that Notts being without vital players for that final game against Warwickshire could also effect the title chances of Sussex.

  • Neil Dyer on August 24, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Who are these quality one-day players that Notts have produced? To my mind, they can be credited with Hales and Patel (fringe ODI players at best). Broad, Swann, Lumb and Taylor have all been poached from other counties. It is Notts' own fault if they are not available for the Championship run-in. There are other counties far more harshly done by, since Broad and Swann are effectively free for Notts, as are Bell and Trott for Warwickshire, whose availability for the county suggests that Ashley Giles ids the man to ask to buy you a lottery ticket!!

  • Kenny Shovel on August 24, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    Momo:

    Well, I doubt Notts will get much sympathy from Leicestershire supporters, that's for sure!

    For the record, I don't think Notts have ever signed a player who was centrally contracted. Although, as I mentioned in a previous column, they knew exactly what they were getting when Stuart Broad and James Taylor joined them.

  • Momo on August 24, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Notts only have themselves to blame, they bought players who were already contracted to play for England. They knew they would be unavailable for large parts of the season and still signed them (excluding Patel).

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  • Momo on August 24, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Notts only have themselves to blame, they bought players who were already contracted to play for England. They knew they would be unavailable for large parts of the season and still signed them (excluding Patel).

  • Kenny Shovel on August 24, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    Momo:

    Well, I doubt Notts will get much sympathy from Leicestershire supporters, that's for sure!

    For the record, I don't think Notts have ever signed a player who was centrally contracted. Although, as I mentioned in a previous column, they knew exactly what they were getting when Stuart Broad and James Taylor joined them.

  • Neil Dyer on August 24, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Who are these quality one-day players that Notts have produced? To my mind, they can be credited with Hales and Patel (fringe ODI players at best). Broad, Swann, Lumb and Taylor have all been poached from other counties. It is Notts' own fault if they are not available for the Championship run-in. There are other counties far more harshly done by, since Broad and Swann are effectively free for Notts, as are Bell and Trott for Warwickshire, whose availability for the county suggests that Ashley Giles ids the man to ask to buy you a lottery ticket!!

  • Kenny Shovel on August 24, 2012, 14:35 GMT

    Hi Neil,

    The signing policy of clubs like Notts & Surrey never fail to raise the hackles do they! Perhaps ‘produce’ wasn’t the correct phrase to cover all of the players Notts have in the Twenty20 World Cup squad.

    You're also right that other clubs have been hard done by. I can't imagine Lancs are very happy at Anderson not being available for their final game as they try to avoid relegation. But unfortunately I have only so much space and had already written 900 words of what is supposed to be a 800 word article. I used the Notts v Warwickshire game as a high profile (for the CC) example of a wider issue.

    Keep in mind that Notts being without vital players for that final game against Warwickshire could also effect the title chances of Sussex.

  • Paul Hobbs on August 24, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    We all know what Pieterson is. Talented with the bat but no sense of team ethic,manners,overblown ego,no loyalty to anyone but himself. England should be glad to see him gone like South Africa were. We have players for now and the future that can play as a TEAM like South Africa play,for each other. as to player availability we play too may ODI's and not enough 5 or 4 day cricket. Test matches are vital. It should be a max of 3 ODI's per country not five. When No 1 test team plays No 2 it should be and 5 match series. Fewer matches against the weaker teams. The ECB should a long hard look at player workload and their own greed.

  • Neil Robinson on August 25, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    @Paul. I think there's one slight adjustment that could be made regarding the two full day gap between ODIs. Whilst completely understandable in geographically dispersed areas (India / Australia / South Africa) such a global rule makes no sense in England etc. 1 full day is more than enough. To be honest playing at Lords/The Oval, Trent Bridge/Edgbaston, Leeds/Manchester(or Chester-le-Street) could be 2 straight days. That way 5 ODIs could be fitted in in 1 week

  • JL on August 25, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    I see the counties learnt nothing after the 90's and only think self, self, self. How many counties have received the benefit of not actually having to pay these players, and those on the cusp of the team that go on Performance squads coming back with more experience. The funding is especially relevant in these times when counties are struggling for funds, would Broad playing for notts be a benefit for the club? probably not as it wouldnt put any more bums on seats, the same goes for swann. Maybe the counties should look at themselves and how they can develop thier own internal talents to replace those missing for internationals.

    time have changed and the counties are no longer king, and they need to realise this.....

  • Patrick Clarke on August 26, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    Excessive scheduling of international cricket, especially completely pointless ODI Series such as the recent one with Australia are completely strangling the domestic season. Yes international cricket at the moment might make a lot more money than domestic cricket but I wonder whether this will still be the case in years to come with the same 6 or 7 international sides playing each other over and over again. I wonder how many people would still go to soccer matches if a similar programme was in place, eg England playing Germany, Brazil and Spain over and over again and leading players like Rooney and Gerrard only playing for their clubs 2 or 3 times a season. Unless curbed soon it will all turn into one big bore, even England v Australia if matches continue to be scheduled every year. Let's at least try and make some space for international players to play at least 3 or 4 county championship matches each season.

  • Kenny Shovel on August 26, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    JL:

    Counties don’t act like premiership football teams. Players don’t develop injuries just before internationals then recover immediately afterwards. Country comes before county.

    The ECB do a lot of good with the money they earn. At grassroots with Chance to Shine. At domestic level by helping fund the counties. And yes, development tours abroad that give players valuable experience.

    But exactly how could the ECB earn the income for all that without a viable product to sell? The England selectors didn’t find players like Bairstow and Finn under a gooseberry bush; they’ve been nurtured for years by their counties. It would be nice if the critics of county cricket acknowledged that its relationship to the international team is co-dependent rather than parasitical.

    So my article isn’t a demand for a repeal of central contracts, more a lament that the current international schedule means there is little chance to see England’s best cricketers in the flesh without paying top dollar.

  • Gordon Todd on August 26, 2012, 19:33 GMT

    Taylor and Broad (both, incidentally, like Harry Gurney, born in Nottingham) were both taken on the staff at Notts before they had played Test cricket. Swann played for some years at Trent Bridge before his second chance with England. None, so far as I am aware, were brought kicking and screaming to the club. No-one could have expected Taylor to be playing Test cricket this year. He has scored one 50 and one 100 for Notts this season. The unavailability of all these Notts players in the championship run in (as opposed to those of Warwickshire) will cause questions about Ashley Giles' two roles to resurface. KP. His sides do quite well when he doesn't play for them. Notts won nothing during his four years there. When he left they won the championship, and were later to win it again and finish second twice. England won the 2009 Ashes (largely) without him, and the 2012 Australia 1-dayers. Could it be that the more cohesive dressing room atmosphere compensates for his missing runs?