County news September 4, 2009

Wrong to scrap 50-over game - Lewis

Cricinfo staff

Jon Lewis, the former Gloucestershire captain and England seamer, has criticised the decision to do away with the 50-over format in county cricket, arguing that the limited-overs game in the domestic circuit should remain consistent with the international format.

The counties voted 13-5 in favour of embracing the new format, which reduces the number of overs to 40 but retains the Powerplays and fielding restrictions, like in the 50-over game. It is believed that the 40-over game still retains popularity among county members and is easier to sell than the 50-over fixture.

However, Lewis, who's played one Test and 13 ODIs, felt otherwise. "If you asked the players and members, I think a majority of them would be in favour of retaining the 50-over competition," he told the Wisden Cricketer. There is something unique and very, very special about playing for your county in a showpiece final at Lord's. It's something which simply isn't available to players or spectators in Twenty20 cricket. I've been lucky enough to be involved in quite a few Lord's finals with Gloucestershire and they are an amazing experience. It will be sad to see that removed from the programme."

But Lewis supported the retention of the two-division County Championship format which promoted and relegated teams based on their performance. "That remains the best option for the England team," he said. "By keeping the two-division system with promotion and relegation and teams playing one another on a home and away basis, the competition has at least been permitted to retain its integrity.

"This structure has definitely promoted increased competition and raised standards and that has to be good for the England team. Personally I was relieved when the ECB listened to the counties and decided to leave the four-day game well alone."