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.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • adrian on June 22, 2008, 14:56 GMT

    This is the craziest idea yet for the future of cricket , or should i say the demise of cricket . Twenty twenty is a game of adult rounders and does nothing for the longer versions of the game . Players are using one day shots in championship matches and tests which while the crowd may enjoy them it does nothing for the game itself . One day matches will eventually kill the proper game as people knew it .

  • David on June 22, 2008, 11:42 GMT

    A disgarace.

    The county game is not quite as bad as people will have you know. You watch agame at Scarbourough in the 4 day format. 5000 people a day, every day. The recent roses game @ Headingley (2nd day was a saturday)had nigh on 7000 people, which i can confirm was 2000 more people than those that attended Yorkshire`s 20/20 opener agains derbyshire. Yorkshire recently beat somerset in an absolute thriller down at taunton, it took the Tykes to the top of the divsion. had the result gone the other way, they could well have ended up 3rd from bottom. The championship is tight, tense and has everything to play for. The media do not help, Sky commentators going on and on about the packed crowd at Old trafford on friday for the roses 20/20, failed to mention on the monday how poor their crowd was against durham. The bubble has already burst on 20/20/ leave it as is, scrap the pro 40 if you must, but leave the 4 day game. Austarlia have less games due to excellent weather all year.

  • Jonathan on June 22, 2008, 10:25 GMT

    Absolutely awful. I think the current set-up is fine, except that I have no idea what's being played when. I would prefer a system where 4-day first-class was played exclusively April-early June, then the 20/20 competition followed by a single other 1-day tournament over 50 overs played in the manner of 20/20 - i.e. the whole event over a few weeks. Then the remainder of the first-class season could be played. Test and ODI could be fitted around this to best prepare English players and tourists to the coming tournament.

  • Patrick on June 22, 2008, 8:59 GMT

    Ending promotion and relegation in the Championship is a ludicrous idea. Its interesting that it is the counties who usually fail who are pushing for it such as Essex, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. If failing soccer sides such as Leicester City, Derby County and Southampton came up with a similar proposal in football it would rightly be laughed out of court and dismissed for the idiocy that it is. Only the ECB out of all sports administrators could be stupid enough to waste time considering it. 1st Division cricket is at its highest quality for years, just listen to those who know what they are talking about such as Justin Langer. If its not broke, don't mend it.

  • ken on June 21, 2008, 22:35 GMT

    It's about time we went to three divisions but with no relegation or promotion its seems a bit pointless.A premier division of 6 teams (playing each other twice)& a north & south division of 6 teams each,with a play-off for promotion to the premier.

  • Scott on June 21, 2008, 20:21 GMT

    Just when I thought Twenty20 couldn't ruin the game more The head of the ECB comes out with this. It ruins the thrill and structure of the County Championship.

    Twenty20 has ruined cricket, it may be entertaining however there's no skill to it it's just to attract crowds and people who wouldn't normally follow cricket. All this money coming into the game is starting to ruin 4 and 5 day cricket.

  • Zenon on June 21, 2008, 20:01 GMT

    Awful Awful Awful idea. i can understand the idea of 3 divisions, but 3 conferences, randomly drawn and with no promotion/relagation? what is the point? Even as a business decision this is an awful idea; whilst you are always looking widen your customer base, you never EVER do that at the expense of the existing core of loyal customers. This would be the death of membership fees, the death of competative FC cricket, all to create extra T20 games? have these alleged businessmen never heard of Supply and Demand? in every single way - sporting, business, whatever - this is a BAD idea and i cannot believe that it has even got this far.

  • Paddy on June 21, 2008, 18:50 GMT

    Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Absolute maximum First Class playing clubs that England can/should sustain is eight. Six would be better. The County system is an anachronistic sham. Clarke's proposals are far from revolutionary and effectively sustain the current unsupportable and unaffordable 18 county status quo. Read William Buckland's excellent "Pommies" for the real truth Giles - and stop buggering about!

  • Edward on June 21, 2008, 12:19 GMT

    This is ludicrous and I agree with those who have suggested that this idiotic man should resign or be sacked as quickly as possible. Clearly we need more competition in championship cricket, not less. The counties must adapt as well, and accept the need for less teams. Pro 40 should have been scrapped years ago when the 50 over game rightly became the ultimate and natural one day contest. T20, although on a personal level I would rather watch test cricket every time, can be fun and has a major role to play in taking cricket forward and bringing new fans to the game, but it must do so as a side show and compliment to Test cricket.

  • Chris on June 21, 2008, 11:28 GMT

    Clearly this idea has not been thought through. What a rediculus suggestion to decide the championship on a play-off. Odds are that one or more of these play-off matches would be drawn so what happens then? We have a silly situation in Rugby Union where the title is decided by a play-off which means that the team who have the best record throughout the season does not necessarily win the title. Do we really want that in Cricket. There has to be room for Twenty20 as it does bring much needed money into the game but those who watch it do not follow their counties week in and week out. As has already been said, first class cricket is the whole basis of the game. Remember one day cricket began with 60 overs, then we had 40 on Sundays, 55 in the B&H before 50 became the norm. They are now saying that 40 overs may become the standard one day format and some people want to scrap one-day entirely and have twenty20 in stead. Stanford's millions won't last for ever!

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