County cricket January 10, 2012

ECB to accept Morgan's county review

George Dobell

England's first-class counties will play just 14 Championship games per season as the ECB Management Board looks set to ratify the vast majority of the Morgan Review at Lord's on Thursday.

Barring a major u-turn from the ECB, the changes will be implemented ahead of the 2014 season. Other features will include a return to 50-over List A cricket, a minimum 14 Twenty20 games per county and a cut in the level of the salary cap.

While few counties are happy with the results, most seem willing to accept them. David Morgan, the former ICC and ECB chairman, consulted widely throughout 2011 and county officials have accepted, after years of prevarication, that the ECB needed to show leadership. Whether spectators, who have had little chance to put forward their views, accept the report so readily remains to be seen.

The biggest winners of the Morgan Review are Team England. They were keen that the quantity of domestic cricket be reduced and keen that domestic limited-overs cricket should mirror the international game. It will be an irony lost on few that the Morgan was initially appointed in May to lead a review into "the business of county cricket."

Though Morgan presented his interim report in November to the widespread approval of the board, his full report will not be submitted until Thursday. After ratification, an almost inevitable event, the county chief executives will be invited for a meeting at Lord's on January 23 to discuss the report's implications. David Morgan will not be present, although he may join the meeting by video conference. As Dave Brooks, the chief executive of Sussex put it: "There will be no more consultation about the domestic structure."

Fundamental to the changes is the scheduling of the Champions League. The tournament, which has been allocated its own space in the ICC's Future Tours Program, will, in most seasons, be staged from mid-September. That has created fixture congestion in the English domestic season and seen the season end almost two weeks earlier than previously.

George Dobell is senior correspondent for ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Less in the way of "Proper" Cricket, more T20 nonsense despite the bubble long since having burst on that charade. The one saving grace is the move back to 50 over OD Cricket in line with ODIs, but otherwise a shambolic decision on the part of the ECB.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    Like other posters I will seriously be considering my county membership if this proposal goes ahead. Real cricket is going to suffer to accomodate this farcical 20/20 form of the game, I note that in the proposal it says a minimum of 14 20/20 games. This year I will not be able to watch REAL CRICKET at home between June 8th and July 27th(almost 7 weeks), at what should be the best time of the year weatherwise. If we must have the 20 over game why not play it at the beginning of the season (April and May) then start the REAL CRICKET season after this and play it without a break until the end of the season, the 50 over games can be played on either a saturday or sunday during this period to encourage better attendances. I hope the counties throw out the proposed changes.

  • Stuart on January 12, 2012, 0:42 GMT

    I don't agree with a 14 match championship but if you where to go with it I would reduce div 1 to 8 teams with each team playing each other home & away (the 14 games) saving two rounds of fixtures on the current number and making fixtures easier to compile as each team could play each round due to the even number of teams.

    Div 2 split into 2 sections of 5 each. Each section created based on ranking previous season finishing positions. Section a: rankings 1,4,5,8 & 9. Section b: rankings 2,3,6,7 & 10. Each team plays each team in their section home & away (initial round of 8 games), followed by each team in one section playing each team in the other section either home or away (another 5 games, each team will then have played 13). The section winner with the highest points will be promoted as will be the other section winner unless the 2nd place from the other section has more points whereas there will be a promotion play-off (draw: section winner is promoted).

  • Arsalan on January 11, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    @Sir_Freddie_Flintoff: I don't agree with RandyOz either because the county system is excellent and has produced quality players for England, in fact better than just quality players. BUT The England team is nowhere near the Aussie team of the last decade. Strauss has said that himself. Anderson is nowhere near the perfection McGrath has, Graeme Swann cannot compete with Shane Warne, in any aspect of his bowling, Ian Bell is another bad example and Alistair Cook is going through an awesome purple patch. Cook at the MOMENT can compete with any legend, in the last year and beginning of this he could easily topple Tendulkar or Lara in their primes. But in the long run he still wouldn't compete eventually. Or were you being sarcastic lol

  • clive on January 11, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    As usual a total cop-out to the demands of TV (SKY) with the proper cricket taking second place to the TV friendly format of 20/20 which, despite all the hype, is not cricket at all. It's what I used to play for the reserves midweek when a game had to be squeezed in between getting out of work and darkness.

    Wasn't 20Ttwenty supposed to be a way of promoting cricket in non-cricket nations and to footie fans who only have 90min attention spans? Now it takes up the valuable British Summertime just as the Championship is hotting up.

    Still, I'm sure that the remaining county fixtures will be arranged for the good weather periods.

  • Martin on January 11, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    When these ideas were first suggested a couple of months ago I thought they would be ditched as quickly as possible. I can hardly believe that such stupid ideas are now to be adopted by the counties. We have an excellent first-class competition (albeit with too many games now crammed into April) which has produced an excellent England team and now the ECB wants to undermine the very system that got England to the no. 1 test ranking. Cricketers learn to play cricket by playing cricket. The less they play the less they will learn and the less easily will they make the transition from county to international cricket. The very integrity of the county championship has been undermined too. The county championship should be the pinnacle of domestic cricket not be being side-lined and maligned at every opportunity by the very powers who should be supporting it. The money men in the city brought the economy to its knees. The money men at the ECB look like doing the same thing to English cricket

  • Matthew on January 11, 2012, 15:55 GMT

    The last i heard Yorkshire were fully against the changes and would oppose any changes suggested by the ECB. In fact it said so in my members newsletter last yearso their stance must have changed.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2012, 15:29 GMT

    The waste of space in the fixture list is the stupidly large number of meaningless group games in limited overs competitions.

    Spread T20 over a couple of months - played over the weekend (Fri-Sun or Sat-Mon). Champhionship fixtures on the other days. 50 over - is it worth the effort? If so play at weekends outside the T20 window.

    Either keep the Champhionship at 16 games or, if they must reduce it, bring in teams like Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands and have 3 divisions, 7 teams per division - 12 games each. Make up for the reduction in games by a divisional champhionship - 4 regional teams each selected from 4 or 5 counties (limitations on overseas players), games played over 5 days - letting England players past, present and future to show what they can do in the test format.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    the problem with the domestic circuit was not with the county championship in the first place. It was in fact that there was 1) too many t20 games, and 2) too many 40 over games that meant absolutely nothing. I would only have changed 3 things about the domestic circuit. 1) 50 overs instead of 40 overs to mirror the international game, 2) add quarter finals to the 50 overs cup, to cut down on too many dead games and 3) return to the 3 group t20 cup so there's less games in the t20

  • G on January 11, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    and for the love of god, can we please abolish the ICC Champions Trophy?????

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