County news January 23, 2012

Debate over Morgan review


The County Championship is set for an 8-10 divisional split after counties refused to ratify the Morgan review at a meeting at Lord's. The Morgan review recommended a reduction to 14 County Championship matches and retaining the equal split of counties.

While the reduction in four-day matches was accepted, counties favoured an uneven split in the County Championship to maintain a balanced fixture list. Maintaining equal divisions would mean some counties playing some teams in their division twice and others once.

The counties also objected to a return to 50-over cricket, as recommended by David Morgan, the former ECB Chairman, to mirror international cricket and to help the England team.

The meeting debated the benefits of playing one-day cricket on Sunday afternoons, with a move to Sunday morning starts for 50-over matches seen as less popular with spectators.

Counties did accept a switch to 14 matches for the Friends Life T20 - an increase from 10 which will be played in 2012 and two fewer than the 16 played in 2011.

Discussions at the meeting were "wide ranging and constructive" and feedback will be reported back to the ECB board at its next meeting in March.

The board had accepted the Morgan review in principle and announced the recommendations should be accepted in full or not at all. But given the opposition to some of Morgan's conclusions, the ECB may have to backtrack on their firm stance to accommodate counties' objections.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Stuart on January 25, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    I don't agree with a 14 match championship but if you where to go with it I would reduce div 1 to 8 teams with each team playing each other home & away (the 14 games) saving two rounds of fixtures on the current number and making fixtures easier to compile as each team could play each round due to the even number of teams. Div 2 split into 2 sections of 5 each. Each section created based on ranking previous season finishing positions. Section a: rankings 1,4,5,8 & 9. Section b: rankings 2,3,6,7 & 10. Each team plays each team in their section home & away (initial round of 8 games), followed by each team in one section playing each team in the other section either home or away (another 5 games, each team will then have played 13). The section winner with the highest points will be promoted as will be the other section winner unless the 2nd place from the other section has more points whereas there will be a promotion play-off (home: 2nd place team; draw: section winner is promoted).

  • Adam on January 25, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    Re spectators and T20.

    The problem isn't the number of games, the problem is the density of games. I like going to watch the T20 games thoughout the summer, but at most I'm going to go one per fortnight. If they were spaced out from May-July rather than all crammed together, that means I might find myself going to a good 5 or 6 games, rather than the 1 or 2 I go and see at the moment. Most people I know agree - I honestly think you could double if not triple the total number of spectators simply by spacing the games out better.

    The only argument agaisnt this seems to be some bizarre idea that professional cricketers are apparently "unable to switch" between formats of the game. Nevermind the fact that 10,000 amateur cricketers prove themselves perfectly capable of doing exactly that every week of the summer.

  • Dave on January 24, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    About T20 - When will the ECB and the counties realise you can pack a whole load of T20 fixture, but it will never guarantee sell outs. For one, the T20 tournament is too long, secondly it doesn't have England's star players. Look at the Aussie Big Bash and the IPL, two successful T20 competitions, and they empathise on their star international players and even when they are not playing for their country, they are available for the T20 clubs (eg Big Bash). The English punter wants to see Broad, Pietersen, and co. Not foreign mercenaries, bit part county players who no one knows outside their clubs. When the Twenty20 cup started in 2003, it was a major success as the matches were fewer and the competition was short and sweet, so the spectator would be more keen to see a match not wanting to miss out on good cricket. Then you had the star England players and the boom lasted for a couple of years. Now with so many matches, apathy has set in; and by the end the fan can't be bothered to go

  • James on January 24, 2012, 17:32 GMT


  • Paul on January 24, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    Counties, or at least their Chief executives, don't help themselves sometimes. Happy to accept the trade-off of less Championship games for more T20 regardless of the asymmetrical structure, but then championing the cause of spectators on 40 versus 50 over. Rather mixed priorities IMHO. Morgan Review stipulates a minimum of 80 days / 38 matches for 2014. Leave Championship alone (16 matches/64), T20; group stage as 2012 (10) plus best-of-three quarters when England internationals will be available and one-day; three random groups of seven (including Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands) play each in group once (6) plus quarters, semis and Lords final equals 80 days / 32 matches minimum. Finally accept the schedule plans for Championship and T20, though one-day should be mainly on Sundays July-September.

  • Adam on January 24, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    I believe its two (regional?) divisions of 5 teams. You play the other 4 teams in your division twice and the teams in the other division once per season. This makes for 13 games a year. The winner of each division are promoted each year.

    It's not perfect, but its better than Morgan's stupid idea. It might make for some enthusiastic local rivalries, which tend to be easier to sell to the public as a "local derby".

    Now lets simplify the convoluted bonus points system while we're at it!

  • Alan on January 24, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    @ James Martin: A very pertinent question. Quite clearly it doesn't maintain a balanced fixture list in division 2. The message seems to be that no-one cares too much what happens in division 2. I can see an increasing gap between the two divisions emerging, more like in football. That isn't necessarily bad for English cricket or the game of cricket, but people need to realise the situation they are moving into if this comes into effect.

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    I believe the second division would work in two conferences of 5. Play those outside your conference twice and those in the same conference once. making 14 matches. The top team in each conference would gain promotion.

    Not ideal, as if there is a runaway winner in a conference then the season ends rather early for the teams out of contention. However the only alternative I guess would be play offs.

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    How does the 8/10 split work in the lower division? I can see how it gives you a balanced fixture list for the 8-team division (all teams play each other twice). What is the proposed structure for the 10-team division?

  • Dummy4 on January 24, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    The 8/10 split is the only way that a 14 match championship can work. Playing some teams more often than others outside of a conference system risks the creditability of the competition.

    However if adopted it must pave the way for the counties participation in the champions league.

    I am sceptical about the role in general of the one day league now that we have 20/20, probably not helped by the fact that there are so many dead rubbers in the current format. Perhaps a return to the fantastic cup competitions of the mid 90's - similar to the old B&H cup with groups of 5 followed by quarter finals and knock out would be the best way to incorporate 50 over cricket back in to the domestic season. There was something special about qualifying for the knockout stages, which encouraged many to take a day off work for county cricket - something that rarely seems to happen at present!

  • No featured comments at the moment.