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

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  • Michael on March 8, 2012, 14:39 GMT

    ....(cont'd) It is probably beyond realistic hope that a panel of men operating with a high degree of common sense actually examine the makeup of the cricket season and come upo with a workable formula to last for a reasonable t9ime- eg 5/19 years just to get rid of the culture pointless tinkering. 50 over games fall in line with ODI's and dignify semis and finals , but are not these 40 over games slightly more amusing and exciting, as well fitting into a more workable time frame for the spectator rather than the unwieldy 50 over games. 20 over games may entertain some, but the wisdom of playing them all in a block which fills midsummer is questionable and would bettr be run as an ongoing league through the summer. Also having a three day break between games seems ubnnecessary as a maximum of 4 overs to bowl and twenty overs total fielding is hardly excessive. I hope that somewhere down the line the tinkering will end and a recognisably sound blueprint for the season will emerge.

  • Michael on March 8, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Really it is time to put an end to all this chopping and changing. The cricket season used to be predictable and logical entity, with certain set p[ieces. In the last ten years or so though we have had so much tinkering and meddling that it really is not possible to see a rhyme or reason in the season. Was it broken in the first place? Or did the likes of Mr morgan just need something to do? Quite frankly I see no possible chance of the next set of changes lasting beyond a couple of seasons becausethere is no chance that this set of proposals is a fat lot better than the status quo which is itself a fix on the previous four fixes. Quite apart from the championship reduction to an illogical 14 games the continued placing of it April and May to the present concentration is a worry since April is not a particularly trustworthy month for dry weather and indeed sunny Aprils tend to herald appalling summers so why tempt fate in either direction. The 20/20 takes up too many days more is less

  • James on March 8, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    Drop all of it , please

  • Robert on March 8, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    There is still the elephant in the room which no one wants to talk about - namely the number of 1st class counties and whether the two tier actually works. When so many have played for Engalnd whilst their county is in the second tier, or worse still, been selected whilst playing in the 2nd tier it is hard to argue that the two tiers are effective (well at least not as effective as other sports). The fact that counties have to supplement their sides with has and never been overseas cricketers points towards too many in the first place. The structure we have dilutes takent rather than concentrating it

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