County news March 13, 2008

ECB considers Twenty20 changes

Cricinfo staff

The ECB is reviewing options for changing the structure of the Twenty20 Cup including allowing extra overseas players and expanding the tournament.

Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, advised counties that following the ECB board meeting on February 27 he asked Paul Russell, the chairman of the Domestic Structure Review Group (DSRG), to consider a new team structure for Twenty20 cricket in England and Wales.

The review group has been asked to consider whether sides should be able to field teams comprising four England qualified players, four under-23 England qualified players and three overseas/unqualified players.

For the 2008 season the allocation of overseas players has returned to one - although counties can sign more as cover - but there is a growing feeling that to make the county game attractive and compete with the IPL that it may have to become more of an open market.

Some counties have already signed players purely for the Twenty20 - Albie Morkel with Durham and Sanath Jayasuriya with Warwickshire - but they will be their one overseas player for that period.

Clarke also confirmed that the review group has been asked to investigate an extended Twenty20 and other Cup competitions. Currently the Friends Provident Trophy is the 50-over tournament, which has been amended for this season into zonal groups then a knock-out, and the Pro40 is then played in the second half of the season.

The Twenty20 Cup has already been expanded since its first season in 2003 and the group stage for 2008 will be played over a two-week period in June followed by quarter-finals then the finals day, which this year is at The Rose Bowl. The ECB has been wary of adding too many more Twenty20 matches to a crammed domestic schedule, but events elsewhere may force their hand.