Twenty20 vision June 20, 2008

ECB ready to bulldoze the Championship

Cricinfo staff

Giles Clarke: Twenty20 set to dominate in his brave new world © Getty Images
English cricket is set for a massive shake-up, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.

Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, is preparing to push for sweeping changes that include the splitting of the County Championship into three divisions, a move whose main objective is to clear room for more Twenty20 cricket. This is despite growing worries from some counties that crowds at matches this season have been down, something many attribute to the increase in the number of games.

This will upset many, but he also wants to end promotion and relegation between divisions, so the three conferences will be randomly drawn at the start of the season. It is unclear quite what this will leave them playing for, and a number of county chairmen are known to be opposed to tinkering to this degree.

Clarke is also likely to recommend salary caps to try to balance the gulf between the counties, as well as a more controversial plan to loan foreign players to less well-off counties.

The ultimate aim is to create an English Premier League to rival the IPL, with teams drawn from outside the traditional county structure. Part of the agreement with Allen Stanford might well have included provision for him to field a side in such a competition.

Clarke's proposal will be further discussed at the next county chief executives' meeting in July.