County cricket October 18, 2012

ECB agrees to new county schedule from 2014

  shares 32

England's county championship will benefit from Sunday starts after the ECB Board agreed to a new domestic schedule for a four-year period from 2014.

A new-look county programme will also include Twenty20 cricket played weekly over much of the season, predominantly on Friday evenings, and the scrapping of 40-over cricket which will be replaced by the 50-over format, replicating the international game. The proposals will be formally adopted next month.

The desperate need to create space in an overcrowded fixture list is made by slimming down the Clydesdale Bank 50 to eight group matches per county - four fewer days than the 40-over equivalent.

Counties will either be split into two groups of nine, which would leave no place for Scotland, Netherlands or the Unicorns, an invitation side made up of some of the best non first-class players, or into four groups of five in which case only Scotland, who have already indicated their wish not to continue after 2013, would be omitted.

The decision follows the failure of the Morgan Review, chaired by David Morgan, the former Board chairman, to find unanimity and a subsequent polling online of more than 25,000 county supporters in the biggest customer survey ever undertaken by English cricket.

Morgan's proposals that the Championship should be reduced have finally been defeated after strong opposition from players, coaches and supporters.

His preference for T20 cricket to be spread over the season has, though, found more favour. A rain-wrecked FLt20 last summer subdued calls for the competition to be played over a short, intense period in mid-summer, as did an increasing recognition that the counties are no longer able to attract the best overseas talent, especially with a USA professional T20 tournament lurking on the horizon.

An ECB statement said: "The ECB Board noted the strong desire from counties and spectators to create an 'appointment to view' for T20 cricket spread over a longer period of the season. There was no compelling preference from spectators for 40-over cricket rather than 50-over cricket and therefore the format from 2014 will replicate the 50-over format played by the national team."

The FLt20 will consist of 14 matches per County, mostly played on Friday evenings - although counties such as Surrey are expected to win the freedom to play on Thursday because of too many rival attractions in London at the weekend. The top eight counties will progress to a quarter-final round and the retention of the popular FLt20 Finals Day format.

A desire to preserve the primacy of Championship cricket is likely to see England's first-class counties opting out of the Champions League unless the tournament is put back at least a week to dovetail with the climax to the England domestic season. Counties have already decided not to participate in 2013.

In 2013, in order to avoid a repeat of the earliest starts in history in 2011 and 2012, the county season is likely to commence on April 9 and finish in the third week of September. The Champions League, which has a window in the Future Tours Programme, starts in the second week of September.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RandyOZ on October 20, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    This will not help the inevitable slide of England. They will have to import more.

  • SirViv1973 on October 20, 2012, 14:32 GMT

    @Richard Leadbetter, It's debatable whether we should have a one day competition over 40 ov or 50 , however getting rid of both is not up for debate and would be an act of complete insanity. There are 3 formats currently played at Int level so we need 3 domestic competition that prepare players for each form of the game.

  • on October 20, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Hurray, the man in the street can actually watch two different forms of cricket at convenient times, and thanks to a regular schedule can plan accordingly, the ECB have finally seen sense. My only issue is the change back to 50 over cricket. Are the techniques and tactics really so different in a 50 over game, I really can't see that this change will better prepare international players. More importantly spectators will have to give up a whole day to watch a game which in todays fast society, with 20/20 cricket the increasing format, seems a strange decision. Why do we need three different competitions anyway, it's unnecessary and confusing for occasional cricket followers. I don't think it will be many years before there's just County Championship and 20/20, and this may be hastened by the change back to the 50 over format, perhaps that's the idea?

  • SirViv1973 on October 20, 2012, 3:16 GMT

    @Steven Nicholson, When there was the increase in T20s in 2010 all the games were played in a mid summer block which meant some teams were playing 2 or 3 games at home in the same week. This time games will be spread out over the season and no one will play more than one game a week so it is far less likely to seem like over kill. As for playing on Fri nites im guessing that Sky figure they will get a better audience as opposed to a Sun afternoon. The counties probably also feel they will get better crowds in the evening. The over thing is that with 50 over games replacing 40 overs floodlit matches would be redundant and a majority of counties have paid good money to install the lights.

  • on October 20, 2012, 1:00 GMT

    why are they waiting til 2014 to switch to 50 overs? its good to see the ecb trying to change county cricket for the better but i have to question a few things, why expand t20 to 14 games? have they forgotten the disaster a few tears ago when the t20 group stage alone was 16 games? and why start county games on sunday? i'd start every championship game on a wednesday so it'd be finished by saturday then have limited over games on sundays like the olden days, it'd work okay i think as long as the majority of july is set aside for t20

  • DomP on October 19, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    The Netherlands, Scotland, and the Unicorns all ought to get a chance if they want, I feel. Other than that, this seems like a step in the right direction.

  • Bamber on October 19, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    Great news overall but Friday night is Poker night, what am I going to do now?? and NutCutlet - until this season I would have agreed with your comments on overseas mercenaries but having been at Hove for Scott Styris 100 off 37 balls, I am now a convert!!

  • on October 19, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    bang on.. most of the point that me and a 1000 others made in the survey have been listened to and implemented :) now its time to wait and watch.

  • JimDavis on October 19, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    Regular Friday night cricket at long last!

  • Nutcutlet on October 19, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    The spreading of the T20 over a long period means that the sudden arrival of the mercenaries from all points of the compass come June becomes a thing of the past. I for one am grateful. Season-long contracted overseas players will be able to take their regular places in their adopted sides & counties will not be put to the expense & trouble of accommodating these brief-stay overpaid stars, many of whom do not deliver the performances expected of them. The crowds will still roll in if the weather is good. The County Championship thrives when there's continuity & the mid-season freeze for T20 was thoroughly disruptive, IMO. Overall, given that this is not a perfect world, these changes are for the better.The ICC World Cricket League needs beefing up for the likes of Scotland & the Netherlands. 8/10 for the proposals.

  • RandyOZ on October 20, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    This will not help the inevitable slide of England. They will have to import more.

  • SirViv1973 on October 20, 2012, 14:32 GMT

    @Richard Leadbetter, It's debatable whether we should have a one day competition over 40 ov or 50 , however getting rid of both is not up for debate and would be an act of complete insanity. There are 3 formats currently played at Int level so we need 3 domestic competition that prepare players for each form of the game.

  • on October 20, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Hurray, the man in the street can actually watch two different forms of cricket at convenient times, and thanks to a regular schedule can plan accordingly, the ECB have finally seen sense. My only issue is the change back to 50 over cricket. Are the techniques and tactics really so different in a 50 over game, I really can't see that this change will better prepare international players. More importantly spectators will have to give up a whole day to watch a game which in todays fast society, with 20/20 cricket the increasing format, seems a strange decision. Why do we need three different competitions anyway, it's unnecessary and confusing for occasional cricket followers. I don't think it will be many years before there's just County Championship and 20/20, and this may be hastened by the change back to the 50 over format, perhaps that's the idea?

  • SirViv1973 on October 20, 2012, 3:16 GMT

    @Steven Nicholson, When there was the increase in T20s in 2010 all the games were played in a mid summer block which meant some teams were playing 2 or 3 games at home in the same week. This time games will be spread out over the season and no one will play more than one game a week so it is far less likely to seem like over kill. As for playing on Fri nites im guessing that Sky figure they will get a better audience as opposed to a Sun afternoon. The counties probably also feel they will get better crowds in the evening. The over thing is that with 50 over games replacing 40 overs floodlit matches would be redundant and a majority of counties have paid good money to install the lights.

  • on October 20, 2012, 1:00 GMT

    why are they waiting til 2014 to switch to 50 overs? its good to see the ecb trying to change county cricket for the better but i have to question a few things, why expand t20 to 14 games? have they forgotten the disaster a few tears ago when the t20 group stage alone was 16 games? and why start county games on sunday? i'd start every championship game on a wednesday so it'd be finished by saturday then have limited over games on sundays like the olden days, it'd work okay i think as long as the majority of july is set aside for t20

  • DomP on October 19, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    The Netherlands, Scotland, and the Unicorns all ought to get a chance if they want, I feel. Other than that, this seems like a step in the right direction.

  • Bamber on October 19, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    Great news overall but Friday night is Poker night, what am I going to do now?? and NutCutlet - until this season I would have agreed with your comments on overseas mercenaries but having been at Hove for Scott Styris 100 off 37 balls, I am now a convert!!

  • on October 19, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    bang on.. most of the point that me and a 1000 others made in the survey have been listened to and implemented :) now its time to wait and watch.

  • JimDavis on October 19, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    Regular Friday night cricket at long last!

  • Nutcutlet on October 19, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    The spreading of the T20 over a long period means that the sudden arrival of the mercenaries from all points of the compass come June becomes a thing of the past. I for one am grateful. Season-long contracted overseas players will be able to take their regular places in their adopted sides & counties will not be put to the expense & trouble of accommodating these brief-stay overpaid stars, many of whom do not deliver the performances expected of them. The crowds will still roll in if the weather is good. The County Championship thrives when there's continuity & the mid-season freeze for T20 was thoroughly disruptive, IMO. Overall, given that this is not a perfect world, these changes are for the better.The ICC World Cricket League needs beefing up for the likes of Scotland & the Netherlands. 8/10 for the proposals.

  • emmersonne on October 19, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    I may be in a minority, but I will miss Pro-40. 50 over cricket starts early enough in the morning to conflict with my precious beauty sleep on weekends.

  • py0alb on October 19, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    My god, its like people have finally listened to what I have been saying for years! Now where is my consultation fee?

  • on October 19, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    At last the ECB have got it right.

    Four dayers to start on Sundays, good idea, should boost attendances too. 50 over format will bring english players on as well. Friday night is Twenty20 night.:-)

    I may make a surpise return to Northants in 2014, if they play their academy and youngsters in all forms.

  • Kentheavenonearth on October 19, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    Bravo ECB, guaranteed Championship full day's play at weekends too ! Just don't go scheduling T20 till May, or no-one will show up for brrr...freezing, not balmy nights of whiteball into the night ! One more thing, can we have a clause in our England players contracts from 2013/14 that they must be back available in the classic at least twice per season, this CURRENT international thread must not be allowed to perish altogether.

  • Tigg on October 19, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    Harsh on Scotland, Netherlands and Unicorns but this is the best suggestion so far by the ECB.

    I'd rather they find a way to at least get the Unicorns involved again (preferably the dutch and Scots too), but this is progress.

  • on October 19, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    how are counties going to play 14 t20 matches per season whilst making it fair at the same time? a 2 group cb50 will mean 4 home 4 away - could be an unfair advantage - but how does a 14 match t20 make it just as fair for everyone like the current 10 match t20 in 3 groups of 6??

  • Narbavi on October 19, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    Why exclude the Scots and the Dutch?? they had this good platform to keep themselves involved in some top level cricket which would have helped their growth!!

  • 2.14istherunrate on October 18, 2012, 23:33 GMT

    The most controversial thing to me is that they will only play 8 CB50 games. 10 would have been better, particularly if t20 is not one's thing and the longer form of one day game is. Anyway they can change their minds and reduce t20 to 12 games before that time which would be better. I do not think excluding Scotland, holland Unicorns is right as we should be helping them in some way.The rally good thing is spreading t20 over the season.Hooray!! Sense at last. Starting CC cricket on a Sunday is actually positive as people can then watch this captivating form of cricket in their spare time-inventive if slightly startling at first sight. Keeping 2 divs and 16 games is obvious and beneficial. Overall the changes are okay but one has to wonder whether they will still want to change things afterwards. @ Adam Mommsen- sorry but to English fans cricket is largely about cricket in England,especially in summer.

  • igorolman on October 18, 2012, 23:02 GMT

    Finally, some sanity! I agree it's sad to see Scotland/Netherlands/Unicorns go, but let's face it the Associates should be concentrating on playing each other and the odd game against 'A' teams, not using up all their holiday time in the domestic league and then not being able to go to the World Cup qualifiers etc. 40 over cricket makes no sense when it's 50 at the international level, and t20 all through the season on a beer night makes it easier to schedule and attract passing punters which, let's be honest, is entirely what the slogfest is all about. Thank God the 16 game Championship is kept honest!

  • markatnotts on October 18, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    There was nothing wrong with what we had this year other than the 40 over comp needed a quarter final to keep the group games more competitive. The funny idea Englands poor results in 50 over cricket were down to the 40 over format has been shown to be a fallacy this last year or so as England improved. Also the 40 over game starting mid week is easier to get to at 4pm and Sky liked the start time. The biggest lunacy of the change is upping the number of T20 games not long after deciding to cut them back to a reasonable 10 per county.

  • SirViv1973 on October 18, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    @Neil Robinson, Im not sure if the plan is necessarily to play CB50 exclusively on Sats. Not every team would play a championship game every week as the season would be around 23/24 wks long. Personally I would take a 4 wk block during late May/early June and play all the group matches then. Each team would then play a game every 3-4 days and it would also help with Eng selection as there tends to be an ODI series in Jun/ Jul each yr. the semis could then be played a few wks later and the final could return to mid summer as in the days of the B&H cup. There is no need for day/night games in Aug as there would be T20 (which is better for tv in the evening) for sky to show at a period when they don't have much else in the way of live sport in the evenings. I hope they play 50 over games during the day. 50 ov day/ nights are a waste of time particularly early in the season as the lights dont ever really take effect and the games would have to start at 2pm which is no good for anyone

  • thebeardedblunder on October 18, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    Thank goodness that common sense is at last prevailing! I do hope that our beloved Championship cricket will once again go back to being spread out fairly evenly over the whole season-and if so then bad weather won't have such an unfair bearing on some Counties. The same will go for the T20, with the competition spread out, the best teams over the season will naturally progress to the quarters and so on. It's a pity though that the 50 over game couldn't be just played on Sundays-the paying public have a strong affection for the old Sunday League in my opinion. And I echo what davidpk said-why have we got to wait a year for this?

  • SirViv1973 on October 18, 2012, 21:54 GMT

    @Yorkshire86, Agree with all you've said. I dont think Sco & Neth will miss out too much as there is the ICC World cricket league where they have the chance to take on the best of the other associate teams on a regular basis.

  • on October 18, 2012, 21:50 GMT

    much better format... stop moaning english fans , cricket is not just about England!

  • Paul_JT on October 18, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    Unsure what the competition formats will be. Two groups of nine makes sense for CB50. But fourteen T20 games will be asymmetrical. Better to have twelve games by including Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands in present three groups. At least regular days will bring much needed clarity to the schedule and the Championship has been left alone.

  • on October 18, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    I reside in Yorkshire and the common reason fans in England cannot attend to watch games as often as possible is mainly because of the lack of publicity and feel counties could do more to liven up County Cricket. Its just a shame domestic structures in other countries which are having political problems cannot learn from this.

  • jonesy.2 on October 18, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    i thought england were the poor relations of 50 overs cricket till i saw us play them during the English summer. the way they beat our so called number 1 side we were lambs to the slaughter. it pains me to say that, but we will come again, dont worry about that Australia will be back

  • bumsonseats on October 18, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    its taken them this amount of time to decide that 50 overs is the way to go matching the world game. now its going to be another year before it kicks in, why not next season.

  • yorkshire-86 on October 18, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    Good descisions, especially forgetting about the Champions League. Why should 16 of the 18 counties, and especially the fans of all 18 counties, lose all thier cricket in the late summer- early autumn period, a period where we usually get good weather, just so 2 counties can go to India or South Africa with a strong chance of getting knocked out after one game playing against teams with so many overseas players they are closer to World XI's than domestic teams? Only sad point is the loss of the Unicorns and asociate teams from the P40/50.

  • on October 18, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    So - if my understanding is right, CB50 will be on a Saturday? Difficult to get from Hove to Chester-le-Street for a Championship match on a Sunday morning. Don't get me wrong - a fixed starting day for everyone is excellent. I'm not sure the extended T20 season is that good an idea for keeping the kids' interest. But fair play they've tried. 'Dumping' the 4 'associates' is, however, IMHO, a retrograde step for everyone. Surely there's a way to incorporate them.

  • Hattrick_Capes on October 18, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    No Scotland, Netherlands...

    Cheers -_-

  • ATC1810 on October 18, 2012, 17:44 GMT

    Not totally convinced but at least they haven't mucked about with the Championship.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • ATC1810 on October 18, 2012, 17:44 GMT

    Not totally convinced but at least they haven't mucked about with the Championship.

  • Hattrick_Capes on October 18, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    No Scotland, Netherlands...

    Cheers -_-

  • on October 18, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    So - if my understanding is right, CB50 will be on a Saturday? Difficult to get from Hove to Chester-le-Street for a Championship match on a Sunday morning. Don't get me wrong - a fixed starting day for everyone is excellent. I'm not sure the extended T20 season is that good an idea for keeping the kids' interest. But fair play they've tried. 'Dumping' the 4 'associates' is, however, IMHO, a retrograde step for everyone. Surely there's a way to incorporate them.

  • yorkshire-86 on October 18, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    Good descisions, especially forgetting about the Champions League. Why should 16 of the 18 counties, and especially the fans of all 18 counties, lose all thier cricket in the late summer- early autumn period, a period where we usually get good weather, just so 2 counties can go to India or South Africa with a strong chance of getting knocked out after one game playing against teams with so many overseas players they are closer to World XI's than domestic teams? Only sad point is the loss of the Unicorns and asociate teams from the P40/50.

  • bumsonseats on October 18, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    its taken them this amount of time to decide that 50 overs is the way to go matching the world game. now its going to be another year before it kicks in, why not next season.

  • jonesy.2 on October 18, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    i thought england were the poor relations of 50 overs cricket till i saw us play them during the English summer. the way they beat our so called number 1 side we were lambs to the slaughter. it pains me to say that, but we will come again, dont worry about that Australia will be back

  • on October 18, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    I reside in Yorkshire and the common reason fans in England cannot attend to watch games as often as possible is mainly because of the lack of publicity and feel counties could do more to liven up County Cricket. Its just a shame domestic structures in other countries which are having political problems cannot learn from this.

  • Paul_JT on October 18, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    Unsure what the competition formats will be. Two groups of nine makes sense for CB50. But fourteen T20 games will be asymmetrical. Better to have twelve games by including Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands in present three groups. At least regular days will bring much needed clarity to the schedule and the Championship has been left alone.

  • on October 18, 2012, 21:50 GMT

    much better format... stop moaning english fans , cricket is not just about England!

  • SirViv1973 on October 18, 2012, 21:54 GMT

    @Yorkshire86, Agree with all you've said. I dont think Sco & Neth will miss out too much as there is the ICC World cricket league where they have the chance to take on the best of the other associate teams on a regular basis.