George Dobell reports in Cricinfo today that the counties are expected to reaffirm their commitment to Championship cricket and shun the farce of the T20 Champions League. This can only be a good thing. The Champions League is essentially an arm of the IPL and shares the same goals: to make money for the BCCI. The tournament has always been heavily weighted toward the Indian teams and very much against the English ones. The English teams would have better odds of winning the prize money at a casino. There was no reason for English teams to ever take part; for all the talk of it being allegedly an international tournament and the players benefiting from the supposedly higher level of play, the fact is still that it is a dressed up club competition. There is no reason to suggest that the actual standard is at all higher than it is in England just because there is more light and sound associated with it. It is the same fallacy that leads people to the mistaken impression that the IPL has some legitimacy.
There is also the longstanding problem that the Champions League conflicts with the end of the County Championship. This could be avoided if those in charge of the tournament bothered, but they don’t and that should be no surprise. The BCCI have made it very clear in the past that they care nothing for the County Championship and whilst I can understand that as it isn’t their competition, they have also shown their usual unwillingness to compromise on any matter. It is a stance we have seen all across the politics of cricket for years now. These past two years the ECB have scheduled the County Championship ridiculously early to allow the counties to play in the Champions League and it has really come back to hurt them. Quite rightly it is time that the ECB stopped catering to those who will not return the favour. If the BCCI ever decide that they want English teams in the tournament they can push it back by a week or two. Until then they can play their own weighted game without the counties.
Some other good things appear to be coming are an extended period of domestic T20 and a return to fifty over List A cricket. Although there are things I like about the T20 window, I’ve never been too fond of it as it really disrupts the momentum of the Championship and then there is far too long before the quarter-finals and Finals Day. A full season of T20 on weekends is a much better idea. With regard to fifty over cricket, I do understand the concerns of the counties and actually prefer listening to forty over matches. But I would rather have a fifty over competition to match that of international cricket.
I’m quite pleased about this news overall. After all the gloom of the Morgan Report last winter it seems that everyone has seen sense about the importance of a 16 match Championship and actually look to be making improvements to the structure rather than semi-random deletions. Common sense has been a rare beast in the governance of cricket recently; finally we are seeing a good example of it.