ECB to accept Morgan's county review
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