It was revealed on Cricinfo today that the ECB are going to accept the Morgan review and reduce the County Championship to 14 matches from 2014. I’ve written before about what a dreadful idea it is and that hasn’t changed. The fixture congestion is not going to be effectively eased and the four day game is still popular in England. All this is doing is reducing the amount of proper cricket for no discernible gain. What is particularly galling though is that the reason for the added fixture congestion is that the end of the season is being brought forward to accommodate the Champions League T20 competition.
The fact that we are decimating (more than, actually) our own premier competition for the benefit of a farcical, meaningless T20 competition in which we are not even stakeholders is absolutely infuriating. The ECB have already kowtowed to the BCCI about the DRS and already allow players to play in the IPL instead of for their counties. Now they are going to let our fixture list be dictated by Indian administrators who not only do not care about it’s health, but who have shown an active antipathy toward it! In many ways the ECB are the best run of all the cricket boards, but in addition to not scheduling enough Test matches every time they have looked like properly standing up to India they have folded. It is an absolute disgrace.
I’m not going to be so melodramatic as to say this will ruin the County Championship, but I do think it will hurt it. Sixteen matches is just about enough to avoid flukey results, but even then a lot is dependent on the rain staying away early in the season. What will we do when there is a wet spring and the first nine of 14 matches are badly rain affected? England is the only country in the world where domestic first class matches have their own following. Why damage that at all? Why not try to improve attendance and following of these matches instead of abandoning them for more T20s, both domestic and foreign? I have never seen anything that actually confirms the notion that people who come to the game via T20 actually go on to watch first class cricket. If Indian ‘supporters’ are anything by which to go it seems that T20 viewers are mostly loud, uninformed and at best apathetic toward Test cricket. Their money counts the same as the money of those who care about the first class game, but if the ECB truly care about the long term future of the game they must cater to those who also care, not those who don’t.