With their allocation of games from 2017 to 2019, the ECB have achieved something thought to be impossible: kept just about everyone in English cricket happy. But, as ever, a wider battle is raging. The chairmanship of the ECB is being hotly debated and even happy counties are not necessarily resistant to change.

While the Major Match Group which allocates the fixtures is independent - although the definition of that word is open to interpretation - the struggle to win the hearts and minds of all the counties is a key battleground in the fight to win the next election for chairmanship of the ECB in March.

The anticipated protagonists are incumbent Giles Clarke, one of the most influential and intimidating figures in sports administration, and Colin Graves, the Yorkshire chairman. Although the candidature of neither can be entirely taken for granted, as things stand it seems Graves is heading for victory.

Some counties, such as Warwickshire and Lancashire, are rather more satisfied than others about the largesse bestowed upon them by the MMG. Durham and Hampshire have some cause for mixed feelings. But the consensus is that this time it has got a difficult job about right. It is hard to think how fewer people could have been disappointed from what will always be a deeply competitive issue.

The MMG was helped by one key factor. The overwhelming number of games to allocate - a number swelled by two ICC global events for the men's game in the period - made it easier to appease everyone.

Whether such a number of matches are sustainable in the future remains to be seen. More players will surely retire early, exhausted in body and mind. And whether some of these matches are worth what they once were is also debatable.

The surplus of international cricket has rendered only Ashes Tests anything like an easy sell and, last summer even those did not sell out. The prospect of Pakistan touring for four years in succession - 2016 to 2019 - sums up the sense of overkill. Selling tickets for those games will not be easy.

The MMG was limited in its options by the existence of staging agreements for a couple of grounds. Yorkshire and Surrey both had deals with the ECB that guaranteed them Tests in 2019 and with Australia the only tourists to play Test cricket that summer, the allocation process was straightforward. Had the process been entirely merit based, Headingley would surely have struggled.

More major matches will be allocated early in 2015. Clubs will be asked to bid on games from 2020 to the end of 2023, a period that will include another Ashes series (in 2023) and another India Test series (probably in 2022). At least the counties, able to plan their financial affairs up to nine years in advance, will have some certainty over their futures.

While Clarke has previously won re-election on the basis of offering more money to the counties - he led something of a revolution in broadcast deals that saw live cricket sold exclusively to a subscription broadcaster for a handsome premium - there is a sense now that he can no longer offer anything more than Graves.

There is also a sense that the counties have tired of his style, which remains a little more stick than carrot. Several county chairmen feel it's time for a change; it is not overstating the case to observe that one or two simply loathe him.

Graves, straightforward Yorkshireman or not, will perhaps offer a more conciliatory alternative. While Clarke has increasingly focused on international matters - unapologetically pulling off the deal that sees England share power at the ICC with India and Australia - Graves will focus on county matter. It also seems that he will offer a regime that will cut the costs of administration at the ECB.

ECB costs have continued to mushroom in recent years. While the investment into the England team is expected to remain, under Graves there are likely to be some management cuts - the Daily Mail reports that Mike Gatting will be one high-profile casualty - while there is also likely to be a clampdown on expenses and what one county chairman termed "frivolous" legal cases.

The ECB might also reflect on the staffing of overseas tours. There are more coaches on the Lions training trip to South Africa at present - a tour on which they do not even play a match - than in a National Express depot.

The broadcast deals are also likely to be reviewed. A consensus is emerging from the counties that suggests a need for some cricket to return to free-to-air television as a matter of urgency.

Graves is not to everyone's taste, either. While he is respected both for his commitment to Yorkshire CCC - the club would have gone into liquidation without his money - and his success as a businessman (he founded the Costcutter supermarket chain), there is some concern that his affinity for all things Yorkshire will compromise his independence.

To that end, there were those hoping a third candidate might be persuaded to stand: the names of two prominent Conservative politicians of the past generation, Ken Clarke (a former president of Nottinghamshire CCC) and Sir John Major (a former president of Surrey CCC) were bandied around, but neither is a realistic prospect.

With Clarke losing even some of his previously loyal followers, he may conclude that he will not stand for re-election and avoid the indignity of defeat. Instead, there is talk of the ECB finding a way for him to remain involved as their representative at the ICC. A knighthood has been talked about, too.

To this end, he could become the organisation's first president. But that would require a change in the constitution of the ECB and some county chairmen are far from convinced that Clarke warrants such treatment.

Either way, it appears his days at the helm are numbered. And while his time as chairman (he was first elected in 2007) has encompassed a period of almost unprecedented success on the field and unprecedented riches off it, the affection has never quite followed.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo