County news March 8, 2012

Morgan Review faces its moment of truth

The ECB Board would have to face down rising discontent at Lord's today if it opted to implement David Morgan's recommendations over the future structure of county cricket.

Morgan, the former chairman of the ICC and ECB, was appointed in May 2011 to lead a review into the "business of county cricket". After months of consultation with a variety of the game's "stakeholders" - though notably few spectators - he submitted his full report to the ECB board in January.

The ECB Board, keen to show leadership after years of prevarication, have not only expressed provisional support for Morgan's conclusions, but insisted that his recommendations - which include a 14-match championship, reduced from 16, a return to 50-over cricket and a minimum of 14 T20 matches per county - must be adopted as a package.

While the board can - and might - impose that decision upon the counties, Morgan's conclusions have received such widespread criticism that there is a growing sense of caution from some at ECB over their implementation.

Indeed, Morgan achieved that rarest of things in county cricket: unanimity of sorts. The Professional Cricketers' Association, the vast majority of the county chief executives, coaches and chairmen, the ECB's cricket committee and, according to unofficial on-line polls, the majority of spectators, have all expressed their reservations over Morgan's recommendations. The recurring theme of their issue with the report is the reduction in the championship program and the subsequent compromise to the integrity of the competition.

That leaves the board with few options. While they are loathe to be seen to U-turn on such a key issue, they are also reluctant to so blatantly ignore the views of all the parties they represent. One potential - and very ECB - solution would be to defer a final decision pending more consultation. It could almost be their catchphrase.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo