English cricket

Key warns of Championship schedule

Andrew McGlashan

August 16, 2009

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Robert Key couldn't find his timing as he made 34 off 38 balls, Kent v Somerset, Twenty20 Cup semi-final, Edgbaston, August 15, 2009
Robert Key: "It is brilliant we've got more Twenty20 but we've got to be careful we don't end up playing back-to-back Championship games throughout the whole year." © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Rob Key
Series/Tournaments: Twenty20 Cup | England Domestic Season
Teams: England | Kent

Robert Key has warned that next year's expanded Twenty20 tournament must not come at the cost of the County Championship. Key, whose Kent side lost the semi-final against Somerset on Saturday, supports the increase in matches but wants the ECB to ensure it doesn't mean that four-day games are crammed in at either end of the season.

From 2010, the newly-named P20 will include two groups of nine teams and be played over a longer period of the season to build on the appetite for the shortest format. Key, who missed out on an England recall for the deciding Ashes Test at The Oval despite being widely tipped, believes the mid-season period of 20-over cricket is a good idea so long as the four-day format doesn't suffer.

"What is my worry a little bit is that, either side of Twenty20 with an expanded period, are we going to get crammed in with four-day game after four-day game with one-day off?," Key said. "At the minute, we've just gone four-dayer, one day off, another four-dayer, a one-day game, one day off, another four-dayer and then this [Twenty20 Cup]."

"We've got to make sure we keep the quality in the four-day game. It is hard work for bowlers to keep backing up and doing the business in back-to-back games."

Kent had a packed schedule leading into Finals Day, having played for 13 days out of 15 including three Championship matches, and the same demands were faced by Sussex. Key refused to blame the fixture list as an excuse for Kent's seven-wicket defeat, but it highlights the demands faced by county players. His team finished a match against Northamptonshire, fellow semi-finalists, on Friday afternoon and travelled straight to Edgbaston, once again sparking the quality verses quantity debate that surrounds English domestic cricket.

"If you have got a period of Twenty20, it gives your bowlers a rest," he said. "I know it is pretty hectic but they are only bowling four overs compared to playing Championship and 50-over cricket all the time. It will help the bowlers, that period

"I think Twenty20 is a fantastic form of the game. It seems to me the public love this form of the game and it breaks up the summer pretty well," he added. "It is brilliant we've got more Twenty20 but we've got to be careful we don't end up playing back-to-back Championship games throughout the whole year."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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Derbyshire v Glamorgan at Derby - Sep 27, 2009
Glamorgan won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)
Kent v Northants at Canterbury - Sep 27, 2009
Northants won by 99 runs
Lancashire v Warwickshire at Manchester - Sep 27, 2009
Warwickshire won by 3 wickets (with 0 balls remaining)
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Surrey won by 4 wickets (with 5 balls remaining)
Notts v Gloucs at Nottingham - Sep 27, 2009
Gloucs won by 9 wickets (with 195 balls remaining)
Somerset v Durham at Taunton - Sep 27, 2009
Durham won by 2 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)
Worcs v Sussex at Worcester - Sep 27, 2009
Worcs won by 49 runs
Yorkshire v Essex at Leeds - Sep 27, 2009
Essex won by 7 wickets (with 39 balls remaining)
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