Amid the fervour of the debate about the future structure of England's domestic T20 competition it is easy to forget what brought us to this point. To forget, just for a moment, quite why we are talking about it. What should the game be trying to achieve?

Since T20 cricket was introduced by the ECB in 2003, the role and purpose of the format has been revolutionised by the commercial success of the IPL, which has alerted the rest of world to the immense possibilities presented by domestic T20.

No longer is it merely about growing the sport within local populations and financially assisting poor and threatened counties. Domestic T20 cricket is now also about growing the sport via multimillion-dollar broadcast deals, by attracting global interest and establishing an international identity.

While in the not-so-distant past domestic cricket was seen as little more than a necessary component of the broader national and international macro-economic system, domestic T20 is now a legitimate commercial entity in itself.

Of course it is important to remain realistic about how closely the IPL's successes can be replicated elsewhere, given the unique size and nature of India's market, but the Big Bash League in Australia and Caribbean Premier League in the West Indies have proven that domestic T20 cricket of a similar genre can succeed outside of India.

Notably, the most transferable legacy of the IPL has been the value of playing a domestic competition in a single block, one match at a time, and having every match televised. For leagues in their infancy this sort of scheduling generates ease of access, understanding and association with players, teams and results, making the league more approachable to new fans on television - the sport's biggest market - subsequently driving the broadcasting and advertising revenue upwards.

The couch is the new grandstand and the structure of leagues such as the IPL, BBL and CPL reflect that. Of course, that is not to say fans at the grounds need be neglected. At the very least - and most cynical - full grounds enhance the television viewing experience but more simply there remains an obligation to provide for those in attendance. The BBL, in partnership with sports sponsorship and marketing firm PCG, has recognised and fulfilled this better than most, placing huge importance on the "in-ground experience". An emphasis on TV does not mean the live viewer needs to be compromised.

By old measures, England's domestic T20 competition, the NatWest T20 Blast, is not a bad competition at all; in fact, it is rather good - it is a respectable standard of cricket, attracts decent attendances and boosts the finances of counties. In England at least, it deserves more media attention. But by new measures it is nowhere near as good as it could and should be, and is certainly not a competition in accordance with the ECB's financial strength and position in the world game.

It is revealing of the ECB's modest, albeit worthy, ambitions for the current format that while the original Twenty20 Cup in 2003 was designed to attract new fans to cricket, the structure of the T20 Blast was predicated on a 2012 survey largely of existing cricket fans. A decade after launching T20 to grow the game, the ECB appeared to have given up trying.

The survey found that fans preferred a regular day on which most T20 matches were played - what became known as "appointment to view" - so that they could plan and budget for attending. Subsequently in both 2014 and 2015, 87 of the 126 group matches were played on Friday nights throughout the season, and in both 2014 and 2015 record aggregate attendances were set. For many county chief executives, the link between appointment to view and a growing tournament has been made.

The cost of those record attendances via appointment to view has been the inhibiting of the T20 Blast for broadcasters. Logistically, financially and commercially only one match can be realistically televised at any one time. Bulking matches together on Friday nights limits choice.

While many counties are understandably likely to laud two consecutive T20 Blast seasons of record aggregate attendances, to focus solely on attendances would be missing the point.

In an age in which it is estimated that as much as 80% of cricket's global revenue comes from broadcasting rights and less than 10% from gate receipts, that just 25% of the 126 T20 Blast group matches in 2014, and 22% of the 126 group matches in 2015 were televised shows just how significantly the ECB are selling themselves short under this current structure.

Establishing a significant fan base for a competition in which 75% of matches take place away from television cameras is nigh-on impossible in the modern world. We live in an age in which if it isn't on TV, either live or on replay, then it may as well never have happened. The County Championship has suffered from that for years.

Of course, any competition will still almost certainly be hidden behind a subscription service for UK viewers, on either Sky Sports or BT Sport, but here the ECB can claim to be prisoners of circumstance. Innovations to have occasional matches broadcast free to air should be explored but to expect much more is simply unrealistic.

The real difficulty the ECB has faced is that regardless of scheduling, with 18 first-class counties in the T20 Blast, the competition is simply too large for every match to be televised.

"Franchises" - in this context meaning essentially a competition between eight, nine or ten city teams based at Test match grounds to be played as well as the existing T20 Blast - is a widely touted solution. However, it is almost impossible to imagine that there is enough time and appetite for two T20 competitions not played parallel. Also, how would the county competition survive such belittlement as a second-tier tournament? Even now players are complaining they are weighed down by a non-stop schedule. The knock-on effects on the County Championship and the county system in general, not just imbued with history, but so important in underpinning a successful England Test team, would be drastic.

While it is generally accepted that 18 teams is too many for a successful televised T20 league, it would be counter-intuitive to essentially hasten T20 cricket's demise at nine county grounds by the misconceived development of a format that originated with the need to grow the game and support county finances as its primary purpose.

Far from English cricket's structure of 18 first-class counties representing its greatest weakness, as many would have you believe, it is arguably its greatest strength, embodying breadth of infrastructure, facilities and talent possibly unparalleled in the world game. It should be safeguarded and celebrated if it can.

Two divisions of nine, preferably based on merit, with promotion and relegation, or if not, based on Test and non-Test grounds without promotion and relegation, would preserve gate receipts from T20 for all 18 counties, while allowing the top division to be aggressively marketed and sold to broadcasters.

The second division could perhaps be broadcast live and in full online. Revenue could and should be shared equally. A block format would probably see standards raised, with specialisation encouraged and training concentrated.

Admittedly a block format would leave both leagues more susceptible to damage by periods of prolonged poor weather but no solution is perfect and this might be as close as English cricket can get. The advantages should not be blithely waved aside.

Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist. @fwildecricket