County cricket January 10, 2012

'There's going to be a lot of gnashing of teeth'

Ahead of the presentation of the full Morgan Review to the board of the ECB, ESPNcricinfo sought out the views of the 18 first-class counties

Derbyshire
Derbyshire have been identified as one of the most vulnerable counties for so long that it is no surprise that their chairman Keith Loring states: "We want to be on the boat, not rocking it." In better financial health than most, they want strong decisions that stand the test of time and bring stability as a result. - David Hopps

Durham
County cricket needs to restructure in a way that does not just delight the dyed-in-the-wool cricket supporter, but the potential cricket supporter, according to Durham's chief executive David Harker. He suspects like many that the Morgan Review is a fait accompli. "We would like to see proof that this has been genuinely customer led," he said. "Then we need to stop naval gazing and have the confidence to promote it." - DH

Essex
Failed to return calls.

Glamorgan
Alan Hamer, Glamorgan's chief executive, is generally supportive of the Morgan Review but is eager to see more meat on the bones. "We're supportive of the change, particularly 40-over to 50-over cricket. On T20, we need to understand more about when the games are going to be played. We understand broadcasting commitments and the need to have matches played on regular days throughout the week." - Alex Winter

Gloucestershire
Tom Richardson, Gloucestershire's chief executive, is more focused on getting the scheduling right rather than the type of cricket that is played. "We're reasonably ambivalent about 40 or 50-over cricket. We're keener that it's played at the right time." He originally signed up for more T20 with a longer period in which to play it. "It's far better that we play seven games over a longer period of time and we end up with one a week. The supporter can then plan his time - he knows, a bit like rugby, that you're going to be playing a home game every other weekend." - AW

Hampshire
Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire's chief executive, has always been an advocate of a more ambitious county set-up: fewer games, marketed more confidently, so bringing more credence to the first-class game. "If we play a bit less but better cricket, and integrate more with the England fixtures, the counties will see more of the England players and that will help everyone," he said. There is little to delight him in Morgan's pragmatism. - DH.

Kent
"Cutting the Championship programme is probably a necessary step if you accept that the Champions League is a feature of our season," said Jamie Clifford, the chief executive of Kent. "Personally I don't think it should be and feel that most of the scheduling problems we currently have would disappear if we didn't take part in it." - George Dobell

Lancashire
Morgan's proposals have not solved the problem of too much cricket, according to Lancashire's chief executive Jim Cumbes. "They have reduced the Championship but why have they increased Twenty20?" he asked. Lancashire supported the reduction to ten T20 matches in 2012 in the belief that fewer matches can be promoted more aggressively and want it to be given a fair trial. - DH

Leicestershire
"What I don't quite understand," said Mike Siddall, the Leicestershire chief executive, "is that we discussed cutting the championship a couple of years ago and agreed we didn't want to. I'm not sure what has changed." Options for a reduced Championship programme "lack integrity," he argued. Leicestershire would welcome any cut in the salary cap. For a county that has lost several of its brightest talents - the likes of Stuart Broad, James Taylor and Luke Wright in recent years - anything that limits the spending power of their rivals will be gratefully received. - GD

Middlesex
Middlesex are in the unique position that they don't own their main home ground which means less financial risk on their part. They believe two division cricket has been a success but are not convinced by a return to 14 Twenty20 matches. "If you lose your first batch of games the rest can be like pulling teeth and that doesn't make for good cricket," said Angus Fraser, the managing director of cricket. - Andrew McGlashan

Northamptonshire
"I'd be disappointed if there wasn't any further room to debate David Morgan's findings," said Northamptonshire's new chief executive, David Smith. "I'm a supporter of the 16-game, two division Championship and I think it's played a big role in helping England becoming the best side in the world. I'm not a supporter of 50-over cricket, either, and think we'll damage attendances if we return to it." - GD

Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire's priority was to protect the two-divisional championship, with promotion and relegation and that has been achieved. Beyond that they are anxious to see a county programme that makes sense. "The county programme must be put together holistically," said Nottinghamshire's outgoing chief executive Derek Brewer. "The customer must be at the forefront of the strategy." - DH.

Somerset
Somerset support fewer Championship matches. "There has to be a reduction so we can prioritise quality over quantity," said their chairman Andy Nash. "The rational benefits will outweigh the emotional concerns and will help England remain on top of the world rankings." They will reluctantly accept a switch from 40-over to 50-over cricket, but feel that the future lies with T20. "Within five years, I believe it will be played every weekend during the summer. I just hope they change finals day: it's a drunkfest. Nobody wants a ten-hour marathon. We'd like to see finals day separated from semi-finals day." - GD

Surrey
Surrey, the biggest spenders in the country, will be nervously watching Morgan's final decision on the salary cap. The cap, which is intended to protect the interests of the poorer counties, will continue, but Surrey contend that there should be dispensation for young players who have been brought up within the county system. Surrey do welcome a commitment to a more coherent fixture list. Their chief executive, Richard Gould, said: "Next summer we play three T20 home games in four days - that can't be good for the game." - DH

Sussex
Big supporters of 40-over cricket - which contribute significantly to their finances - and reluctant to see the championship schedule cut, Sussex are unlikely to be pleased by Morgan's conclusions. "The purpose of this report was to create a vibrant domestic game," said Sussex chief executive, Dave Brooks, "so I don't really understand why we're going to return to 50-over cricket at the request of Team England. It really wasn't meant to be about them. Besides, it's just not true that playing over 40 or 50 overs is key to England's success. We didn't win a World Cup even when we did play over 50 overs." Brooks is also concerned by a reduced Championship. "It's essential, in the first division at least, that there is a symmetrical system. We can't have champions crowned because they'd played a weaker team twice and a strong one just once." - GD

Warwickshire
"It was never going to be possible to keep everyone happy," said Warwickshire's chief executive, Colin Povey. "There are just too many interested parties: the bigger clubs, the smaller clubs, Team England, the broadcasters and the spectators. David Morgan has consulted widely and done a commendable job, but there's going to be a lot of gnashing of teeth over this." Warwickshire oppose a tighter salary cap and a reduction from 16 Championship games. "The Championship was the one competition that was working well," said Povey. "All it needed was a good schedule - and there's a real danger we're going to undermine its integrity." - GD

Worcestershire
Worcestershire were reluctant to comment "at the request of the ECB." But like many of the smaller counties, they were keen to retain the 40-over competition and nervous about the reaction of their members to the cutting of the Championship. In 2011 they enjoyed higher attendances on some days of Championship cricket than for all but one or two T20 games. - GD

Yorkshire
Yorkshire's chairman Colin Graves, desperate to reinvigorate a financially-stricken county, has been the most vociferous in the build-up to the Lord's meeting, stating that he will use his position on the board to argue for the Championship to be split into three divisions of seven. "I will be putting my ideas forward and I hope that people will take them on board," he says. He will be wasting his breath. - DH

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