Don’t change the County Championship!

I’m hearing that former chairman of the ECB David Morgan is set to propose a some radical changes to the County Championship. According to the Guardian, all of his proposals involve reducing the number of County Championship matches next year. The rationale is the same as it has been the last several times something like this has been proposed, specifically that the smaller counties are in danger of going bankrupt and fewer matches will help them… somehow. (Less travel, I think, though it’s never really made clear.) Why making it harder for the smaller counties to make it into the top flight and making their schedule less comprehensible is not addressed.

The proposals are foolish and hopefully whatever the final one is will get shot down. The last two County Championship seasons have been the best advert for the domestic game possible. There may be a financial reason for changing it, but reducing the appeal of the competition is counterproductive. Attendance may be sparse at CC matches, but it is still the best attended domestic league in the world. The attendance for the County Championship is comparable to the attendance at Test matches elsewhere in the world. I don’t know that the new proposals would jeopardise that, but they would certainly not help. If the plan is to reduce matches then why not the CB40? I cannot get hard attendance figures, but from the TV it looked like Lancashire’s CB40 matches had smaller attendances than their County Championship matches. Certainly the CB40 has less prestige than the other two competitions, why are there still so many matches?

The new proposals would result in a contrived format and almost certainly with reduced appeal. It places the one-day game ahead of the first class matches despite the great success of the County Championship in recent years and despite the positive effect it has had on the national team. (Let us not forget that we are number one in the world, thanks in part to the skill of players in the CC.) There must be any number of proposals that will better suit the domestic game. Hopefully there will be enough board members to see sense. I’m optimistic; none of the proposals in the last few years have managed to go through.

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