I’m a reasonably contented admirer of Lord Palmerston when it comes to my Victorian history. So much more interesting than Peel, Gladstone and the others around that time. A bit of the old Gunboat Diplomacy…. Without going all FICJAM on you, I commend his response to the Schleswig-Holstein question to you…
“Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business—the Prince Consort, who is dead—a German professor, who has gone mad—and I, who have forgotten all about it.”
I feel much the same way about the English cricket summer. For Schleswig Holstein read what to do about Leicestershire? It is a question that, simply, cannot be answered. We have inherited a long, historic structure of 18 counties we would not replicate now if starting a competition. There are variances in size. A solution cannot be found that will satisfy all parties.
“We want less cricket” say many of the players, but like their peers in other sports that won’t be matched by “we’ll take smaller salaries” which is the logical consequence of a reduction in productivity in these modern times. “We want a T20 series with all the stars, in a block, with franchises” say the progressive looking so and sos who see and smell a quick buck. But the counties see their golden goose being taken away after building up the audiences the past couple of years, each time those calls for T20 to be “sexed up” reaching a crescendo after the Big Bash concludes and our retinue of shiny toy merchants, probably including me, want to see us imitate it. The ECB have elongated the season so that the county championship starts in the first rather than the latter weeks of April, and that it finishes a lot closer to October than I might recall it doing so in the past. Then there’s the tricky old issue of the other competition. The not 20, not timed, format. 40, 45 or 50 overs. Played in a block or throughout the season? Played when? Where? How? Who cares? Why?
From 1905 the County Championship had 16 clubs. Number 17 came in 1921, number 18 in 1992. In 2000 we went to two divisions with three-up, three-down. This was too much sporting meritocracy from those who wanted “long-term planning” and was reduced to two-up, two-down. We’ve had the Sunday League, the B&H Cup (55 overs for a long time, 50 when it finished and with a mid-season final) and the 60 over cup which had that first Saturday in September final. There were play-offs in the 40 over comp, some other odd formats based on where you finished in the county championship for the 50 over comp. We’ve had short season T20s, 16 game pre-qualifying T20, and 14 games (where it doesn’t seem to matter that this is disjointed, but the sanctified County Championship does). The County Championship has been three days, three and four days, and now all four day cricket. It was never everyone home and away in the 18/17/16 team days (Can’t vouch for the latter back until 1921). There were fixtures a week in the CC for the entire Summer, until recently when they were bookended by and large at the ends of our season. We’ve had two universities, then six, then lord knows what. We had a pure knockout cup, and one with group phases. We’ve had leagues in limited overs. We’ve had absolutely bloody everything.
I am the first to rail against the “sport as a business” mantra. The sport needs to sustain itself as a whole. It needs to provide an outlet for talent to grow and develop before it reaches international standard, and it needs to do that in as cost-effective, but long-term way that it can. Those two ideals rarely coalesce. I’m reading “Barbarians At The Gate”, a book about the leveraged buy out of RJR Nabisco in the late 80s, and it’s plenty of making lots of money, but absolutely eff all to do with long-term growth. It’s short-term wealth and share-prices, and long-term well…… we’ll deal with that when we get there. That’s the times we live in now, kicking the can down the road, and hoping to get through another season. I said in a Tweet a few days ago that you can’t solve the glorious beast that is county cricket. Once we get that through our heads, then we can deal with what we have.
The one part of the equation that never seems to get called into question is the players side. We see many a survey complaining about their workload, that county cricket loses its meaning, that it’s a treadmill, flitting between format. OK. So they’ve said they want to work the system into blocks. They have their wish, supported by Director Comma, another of those brought up on the system of county cricket, but not so keen to laud its qualities once he got to the international limelight – see also Atherton, Mike. It does have considerable qualities. The standard, by and large, isn’t all bad. Overseas superstars didn’t come over here to experience our cold Aprils, our magnificent May ambience, or the leaf-fall of early Autumn. Mr Rabada isn’t coming to Canterbury for early season high jinks. It is a great school of learning, even now, when the top stars don’t come along. The T20 competition, much maligned, although not the unmitigated success some of its key plaudits would have us believe, isn’t a bloody disaster either. It seems we’re more interested in dressing up a competition to flog overseas (a la Big Bash), than one that works. And the Blast has posted increased attendances. Friday nights worked. There were good games, with good players, and crowds seemed to like it. It’s not for me, but then that’s not who it is aimed at. Matt Dwyer, the ECB’s recruit from Australia to get participation levels back up, said this in an article for All Out Cricket:
The Big Bash is unashamedly about attracting kids and their mothers: it’s not for you and I, it’s not for the traditionalist.
Here we get into the debate of TV coverage, which is a very separate topic and one with a life of its own. T20 in a block is for the players, it is not for the fans. As many point out, if a team has 7 home games in two blocks spread over, what, three weeks, at £20 a pop per ticket, how are families, who they want to attract, going to be able to watch all of them without a significant reduction in ticket prices. Those same ticket prices that counties depend on, and can be spread out more easily over fortnightly periods by and large, for their core revenue? I could make the flippant point that it isn’t about the international team, as we don’t choose our international T20 team on merit, but it’s about a route by which counties can better self-fund. They still need the revenues from the test and other international arenas, but it’s a way for them to contribute better. It’s damn easy for Yorkshire or Lancashire or the KPs to bang on about “franchise cricket”, but they have no plan for how those below that amazing height are going to keep the international cricketers, test cricketers of the future gainfully occupied.
I’ve seen mention of a pooling of resources, but that over-arching care for all attitude left these shores in all sporting formats long ago. Football fucked over its have-nots by making the Premier League for the benefit for the 8 or so clubs who would only get relegated if they left Tim Sherwood in charge too long, and pooling the perpetual vast revenues among themselves. Those smaller clubs who tried and dared became like Icarus. They got to the sun, paid out mightily, got relegated, went bust. Rugby union has its big club teams, and I’ve no idea of the strength beneath that level. Rugby leagues big prizes seem to reside in the big four clubs at the top of the game (Leeds, Wigan, St Helens and Warrington, I’m thinking). It’s business, not altruism. There will be a point where a Yorkshire franchise, perhaps run by similar people who run Yorkshire might say “hang about. Why should a Derbyshire be getting a cut of my hard work?”. The fact the county championship has 8 test venue counties and Somerset says a lot. It’s probably already happening. I’ve heard it said about my county side, that it isn’t really even a cricket club. It’s a successful conference facility running a cricket team.
Which leads me on to the Championship. Many of us profess to love it. That it’s just a wonderful thing. And it is, and I do. My fellow author isn’t so enamoured. Or so he’s told me. But do I support it? Do I hell. Why not? Because I have a full-time job, and a wife and dog to spend time with when I’m not there, and my wife isn’t a cricket fan. Any days I do go are on my annual leave, and I’m not taking too many of them in the summer for that. When I have gone, I’ve been the benefactor of free tickets. I’ve bought my own food and beverages. Great, at last season’s Middlesex v Yorkshire Day 3, I saw the newly crowned champions, a magnificent fightback by that North London mob, a Toby Rowland-Jones hundred AND I got to meet Mr Declaration Game and Mr Wigmore. A tremendous day out. I hardly contributed to the coffers though. I have stumped up some entrance money in the past, of course, but it’s not going to cover the hourly rate of a jobbing county pro, let alone the top boys. It is not economic. It will never be economic. I’m inclined to say leave it the hell alone. A messing about of the format is going to achieve nothing except annoy some bloody loyal followers of the sport. The sort this lot can’t get shot of in the chase for the Big Bash Street Kids.
I’ve done 1600 words, and I’m no nearer the answer. And nor are the people on the ECB committees and such like. Nor are any of us out there. There is no answer. Like the Scottish football league trying to do all it can to make it interesting, when it’s really only about two teams once the blue lot get back to the top of the pile, there’s no real point. It is what it is. A Big Bash type league isn’t going to do for cricket that the Premier League and all its bombast has supposedly done for football (our recent European club form is lamentable, our national team is pure Championship level in world terms), and deep down, people, you really all know it. You really do.
Me? Leave the County Championship as it is, even moving to three-up, three-down, but not fussed. A pure knockout 50 over comp. Even invite Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark whoever to play in it. If it’s 18 teams, then one preliminary round, drawn at random, then a straight knockout with the Final played in June. T20 – well the Blast worked for audiences so I wouldn’t mess with it. This one I’d invite the national teams as well, have 21 teams, 3 pools of 7, each pool winner and second going through and the four best remaining records go into a Wild Card round, a la NFL. The four best records get home draws for the QFs, then there are home semis for the best record, and a Final. But it’s just a pipe dream. They want an 8 team tournament to get the mythical “best players”.
Of course, the national team lays over the top of that, like the hippo on the silentnight bed. Writing about that will be another 1000 words, and it’s late, it’s Friday, and Lord Palmerston is probably right. I’d forgotten about them.
Whether you think the ultimate purpose of professional cricket is to raise money or to attract new fans, the answer is the same:
No matter what else happens, the majority of cricketers, should spend the majority of their time, playing T20 cricket.
Oh and it doesn’t matter what you do, how you change the schedule, rebrand the teams, attract the best players in the world (we already do):
If the game is not on FTA tv, then 95% of the population of the country won’t even notice.
It is Toby Roland-Jones. Sorry to be a bit pedantic.
Given the financial idiocy at the ICC, the majority of players will become T20 specialists. That is where the money is. That is where you actually get a chance to compete – provided of course the scheduling is not as farcical as the ongoing World T20. The ICC not organising a spectacular stuff-up would be a miracle.
The alarm bells should have been ringing as a result of the desperately forgotten AB interview a few months back, but Giles Clarke and his merry band of robbers mistook it for a room service bell. They decided to order some wine, to negotiate even more corrupt deals, and inform Mike Selvey, his unpaid press agent on what turd needed to be dressed up this time.
As things are going, England, Australia, India, and perhaps Bangladesh, will be the only Test teams of reasonable quality in 20 years time – and then mostly at home. West Indies will finally have imploded, Zimbabwe will not have gone anywhere either, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand will have been starved of funds (and / or suffered from internal problems), and who knows what will happen in Pakistan. The security situation is really messing cricket up in Pakistan. I’d struggle not to laugh in the face of anyone who actually thinks Ireland have a shot at getting Test status, with the way the ICC is currently constituted.
All the sounds coming from the ICC are just that. White noise. Nothing substantial has changed, nor will it change. It is just damage control.
This in turn will affect the sustainability of the international game, and thus indirectly the whole of the county game.
Because cricket is not that popular and behind a paywall don’t expect an Arab, Russian or American billionaire to prop up the game (like what is happening in the Premier League). At best such people would be interested in the side-benefits, but will be happy to cut their losses (i.e. scrap the cricket), the first opportunity they get. Unless they will get subsidies to pay for it (that will go down well with the citizens and residents!).
Cricket governance needs a revolution, or the whole sport is doomed.
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I suspect there are many who want to see the county championship run as nine groups of two, (developing to eighteen groups during a three year plan). The winners of each group pat each other on the back and spend the next four months of the season playing T20, or T10 at double the admission price. In four years time someone at the ECB, while pondering over their keyboard, will hit on the refreshing idea F5 is the future. Cricket will be played in the half time intervals of other major sporting events when the majority of spectators have gone for a pie, pasty or… pissemistic thoughts. Just remember ECB whose idea this was! Mine and you ain’t having it!!
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The first response to discussions of scheduling ideas should be: “what are you trying to achieve?” It needs a better explanation than the players prefer it, or the BBL has it, or even history or tradition. Professional sport is in the narrative game, and the narrative is built up from the structure. Here, I think, county cricket has been failing for many years (probably forever). But it isn’t a soluble problem, only one that allows better or worse outcomes. Most of its problems aren’t structural, though that could be better.
For what they are worth, and I don’t live in England, so these are distant observations. A nine team division creates a mess. It adds a bye to every round, and means the schedule has to have 18 match slots (at least). Across a 24 week season, that doesn’t leave much time, which is why teams are forced to play random fixtures when other teams are on T20 or 50 over duty. It also means fans are forced to sit out the weekly narrative when their team isn’t playing.
8 team divisions and 14 match slots is clean and simple. But then there are two counties left over. But I’d look at the broader picture too. Firstly, the talk is of city franchises, but are cities well served now? What of Liverpool (Merseyside) or Sheffield? What the football system has created via relegation/promotion, is maintain a reasonable number of teams per head of people in every region. London and Lancashire are big so they have a lot of football teams. But the county structure is over-endowed in some areas, and under-represented in the industrial north and south.
Secondly, Ireland have a 3-team 3-day competition, Scotland and Netherlands have a four team 3-day competition. They could easily absorb these teams into lower county reaches, helping nearby associates solve many of their own domestic problems. But teams, not nations. They don’t want to play as nations, because it confused fans and makes them look worse than they are when players are missing.
Hence I’d look to expand, not contract. Add a team in Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Belfast. Leave open the possibility of a fourth division. Drop two teams from division 2 and play 3-day cricket in the third division. 2-up-2-down.
With 24 teams, there is also a neat regional solution (ODI or T20 – in a block or no): 4 groups of 6 (10 games), quarter finals, semi-finals and a final (13 weeks). Which can be played in between the 14 county matches.
Quality should never be a problem because there are dozens of international cricketers sitting on their hands during the English season. And players will appreciate, first and foremost, the opportunity to ply their trade.
At a financial level, providing they make money, more matches is better. The return per match is lower, but cricket isn’t interested in returns, it is not an investment but a sustainable business. They should care about total revenue, and total costs. Since the costs (of stadiums/administation) is fixed, and the cost (of players) is a function of revenue, more revenue is better, no matter the margin. But counties should recognise the lessons of franchise cricket too. Only two of the dozen CCC I looked through offered one-day memberships – none for T20 only. So there is no discounted method of signing on for a T20 season. Grounds aren’t sold out, but ticket prices are high, even though American franchises worked out how to manage this sort of demand years ago.
And media… right now matches aren’t being shown, which means they are worthless to the sport. Administrators still talk like it is 2005, but things have shifted dramatically since then. Traditional print media has collapsed and needs subsidies to report on matches; highlights in gifs and vines are the new gateway to events; FTA is much more willing to pay for live events that can’t be watched ad-free on delay; streaming is a serious industry, that cricket hasn’t even begun to invest in (though, as usual CA is in front here). If county fans exist but their attention is fragmented, then online media ought to make a lot of money.
CA has used their revenue bonanza to invest in the sport. In women’s cricket, in the BBL. Those investments have paid off in spades. When people in England point to its success that is what they should be looking at. The TV deal that is worth 1/3 of what it could get now; the women’s matches they paid the FTA station to play; the hype that comes with a full stadium.
There are too much myth and bullshit being peddled about the importance of structure, and not enough focus on the core marketing problem. The people that cricket needs to attend and watch matches wouldn’t recognise a good cricket match from a mediocre one, nor care. They want hype and narrative, and to be part of something. A lot of it is bullshit, but recognising it as bullshit and applying it is smarter than pretending franchises or some other idea is a silver bullet that will fix everything.
Apologies for the length… should put this on my own site…
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Cheers. Just as I was about to go to bed!!!
A lot of sense in here, but also, perhaps, a view not based in the traditionalist heartlands of our county scene. The English sporting firmament has been obsessed by structure since the days I have been following sport. Cricket really resisted this until 1999 for the longer form of the game, and despite the vast majority saying the changes worked pretty well, there’s been the tinkering around when the season is played, relegation and now with the structure of the two divisions themselves. As I think is acknowledged here, we are prisoners of our own history. There’s a lot of people out there, loyal cricket fans, that would see any threat to the “18 first class counties” as a “I’m having nothing to do with the game” moment. Take how the Guardian county pages react to anyone from outside their group.
I’ll address this a bit more when I have a bit more time, but thanks a bunch for the comment. I fear it is too late to do much about our domestic first class and limited over game, and that there is too much wishful thinking going on. Best ride on the coat-tails of the England team and their money-making behemoth, and fund the game from that. Anything else, prepare to feel the full weight of the anger that will come with it.
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You are most welcome. I look forward to a response but will add one thing. The heartlands of the county scene are largely the places where a county team exists. But they aren’t necessarily the heartlands of cricket itself (much as they might project otherwise). To use the obvious example, the lack of accessibility of Lancashire is directly correlated with the historic strength of the Lancashire leagues. Jeffrey Hill and Duncan Stone have both written interesting histories of this phenomenon. Whether county cricket should confine itself to its heartlands is of course a good question.
Much that I support here. For context, I enjoy watching live county cricket, not much bothered about short form stuff.
As such I would like to be able to pop along to a county match practically every week in the summer, although not for a full 4 days. Yes, this is my selfish wish and don’t expect it to be possible. However, when championship cricket shuts down for a month and on return, the nearest match to me is 100 miles away, I’m stuffed. During the football season, there’s always something going on not too far away. So having more locations providing cricket appeals.
Marketing is a huge issue for me – it’s practically non-existent. The only way I know if my local county team is playing at home is if I actively find out for myself. Nothing in my face to say who’s playing, which star players will be lighting up my day, what exciting display will happen at lunchtime to brighten the event, whether there’s a buy one get one free deal, what else I can find to occupy my time at the ground ……….
I’m watching Kitchen Nightmares on TV while typing. I can see parallels. Incompetent bosses claiming they’re doing a fine job while the place is failing to attract customers.
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Excellent post, finally someone gets it.
We need to look at the MLB for how to successfully manage and promote a summer sport beloved by traditionalists and statisticians but often derided for being boring by the uninitiated. The key is to play UP the traditions and history, not try to sweep it under the carpet. People want context, they want a story. They want hype and narrative. Lancashire vs Yorkshire should blow every other historic rivalry out of the water. Boston vs New York didn’t go to war over the English throne for 100 years. People want to take sport seriously. They want it to mean something.
Forget the IPL, its a front for money laundering and match-fixing. That’s the last thing we should be trying to copy.
“Add a team in Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Belfast”
I like the idea of expansion, sure. But the first two places any expansion should take place would undoubtedly be East Anglia (population 2.3m, lots of recreational cricket but no professional cricket team for miles) and the South-West peninsular (population 1.9m, lots of recreational cricket but no professional cricket team for miles).
” The first response to discussions of scheduling ideas should be: “what are you trying to achieve?” ”
In order to answer this, we need to first answer the question “what is professional cricket FOR?”
To answer that question, we need to consider the role of professional cricket within the wider ecology of cricket as a whole – including youth cricket, amateur cricket, cricket coaching, etc etc.
Professional cricket fits into an inter-related system of relationships within the sport as a whole.
For example, cricket coaches coach youth cricketers, who grow up to be professional or amateur cricketers. Amateur cricketers also act as spectators (providing revenue for the professional cricketers) and often act as cricket coaches (helping maintain the supply of junior cricketers). If one piece of the jigsaw goes missing, the whole thing falls apart.
So what is the role of professional cricket in all this? Simple: the purpose of professional cricket is to constantly attract a new stream of people – both adults and juniors – into cricket. It is the marketing campaign for the entire sport.
Its purpose is not to provide revenue or glory, its sole purpose is to attract and maintain an ever-growing army of fans, supporters, and players. If player and spectator numbers (either live or on tv) are falling, it is because professional cricket is failing in its most basic task.
So whenever we discuss these things, we need to keep this at the front of our minds. The right action to take is ALWAYS the action that will maximise the total number of people watching the sport either live or on tv. Nothing else is relevant.
Such a shame that the senior management staff of the ECB and counties are so horribly, horribly out of their depth in their jobs that they still haven’t realised it. By the time they do, it will probably be too late.
Absolutely brilliant AB. The irony is that if they do re-ignite interest in cricket, the greedy clowns running cricket will bring in more money.
“What are you trying to achieve?” is such a perceptive question. I’d throw in two more:
What would encourage you to go to watch a cricket match?
What would encourage you to play cricket?
I did want to write a piece about this, as I think it’s a very good article and I think Russ’ reply is superb. I’m a big believer that this deck chair realignment is just that because we’re fitting around an archaic structure and not what’s best for county cricket in the future.
I’m a strong believer that for 4 day cricket we need to have no more than 6 teams per division (7 at a real push) with a one up, one down. I think it would be an interesting idea to have more than 3 divisions with some of the minor counties included potentially and Div 3 and/or 4 being semi pro. I would hope if we had less 4 day games then they could be scheduled and priced better to provide better access to live games for the public.
I agree with Dmitri that the 50 over game is unloved by players and fans alike and dumping it in April is only going to make it worse. A straight knockout with 32 teams (minor counties, Associates etc) is the best answer with a seedlings system to try and balance the unpredictability.
I’m torn by the T20. People who know me, know I favour the dreaded “F” word style of competition,but I can understand the arguments of both. Whilst T20 has been the lifeblood of many counties, I’m not a fan of the spread out nature of the competition. I think you need to be consistently playing T20 over a block to improve skills and have more access to the worlds best. A 2 division comp was the minimum that should’ve been implemented to prevent lots of meaningless games but the naked self preservation of the counties meant the turkeys were never going to vote for Xmas.
Long and short is until we start looking at how best to fit the structure around what’s best for county cricket rather than how best to fit the cricket around the structure, then any changes will be superficial and in the end meaningless. 2019 could be a pivotal year or another nail in the coffin, dependent on if the boat hasn’t sunk by then.
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http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/983487.html Interesting read from David Hopps re the county scene, its purpose, future, engaging with the public, and tie-in with Team England…
I especially like this para –
“If you want to play cricket for England, it is to be hoped you have maximised your advantage in one of the following four ways: have a family member who has played the game, go to private school, brandish your dual passport after learning your cricket elsewhere, or be born in Yorkshire or Lancashire. Every sport has hot spots, but county cricket’s narrowness of vision is indefensible.”
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I would argue that the main reason for that narrowness is because of the lack of cricket on FTA tv. Most people’s first interaction with the sport is through either seeing it on tv or hearing other people talking about watching it on tv.
Great thoughts above from Russ in particular.
I’m going to add some meandering thoughts in no particular priority.
1) It’s a very long time since the game even thought about fans, let alone did much for them. TV is a separate but obvious issue. Take my comments in the context that the TV situation needs fixing.
– Cricket does nothing for away fans. So it gets no away fans. I’d start with the dedicated ones.
e.g. Make it so that if I’m a Yorks member I can pay a supplement to get into the members areas at the Oval when Yorks come to Surrey. You could go further and sell season tickets that cover home and away games.
– If you’re not a member, the weather protection at most grounds is derisory. It’s a long term project to improve this, but it needs looking at. One immediate possibility at some grounds is having a waiting area for people to go to when rain stops play. I used to follow a lower division football team, so I’m used to braving the weather – but footy only lasts 90 mins. Cricket needs to get real about the weather.
– This bugs me most about international games, but I’ve seen it happen with 50-over and T20 at County Level too : counties have to get fairer about rain-refunds. If you play a couple of overs and then rain cancels play for the day, you don’t get to keep my ticket money, esp. if you don’t have a waiting area.
– Schedules have to make sense. It’s not just about “blocks” you have to think about home vs away games as well. Last time I tried to organise going to a game with the young’un, the next home game was 3 weeks away. That doesn’t really work.
– I think the forward thinking move would be to kill off the 50 over game. Now I say that with a heavy heart because I’ve enjoyed some great games, esp. Roses matches, over the years. But if something has to give in the schedule then rather than half measure we need to make a significant change. If we look at a more successful sport – football – they struggle to carry 3 competitions in truth. The League Cup continues to struggle. Thus in cricket, League + 50 + 20 is too much for the narrative. Let’s have a League and a T20. 2 distinct formats.
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Football lasts 10 months in order to fit in all its competitions. Cricket doesn’t have that option because it is limited by the weather.
I agree about the 50 over game. Admittedly some fans like it, but its definitely the least popular format. You could have an FA cup style straight knock-out 40 over competition that the top 16 teams only enter in September for an end of season finale I suppose. Two games a week for a mid September finish.
Something has to give, and we’d be better served having a proper 12 week, 24 team, expanded T20 competition through May-July, with best of 3 quarters and semis and a best of 5 final in the last week in August.
The CC should continue as it is, but with divisions of 8 with 1 up, 1 down. Below division 2 should be division 3 etc. The distinction between first class and minor counties should be abolished. Only the first two leagues should be professional. Division 3 and below should be 3 day cricket.
One of my big moans is weather protection and not just rain. Having been successfully treated for melanoma, I have to be careful about exposure to sunlight, as everyone should be.
It’s not just members who are provided with protection – add in the corporates and the media. It does take work and expense from the counties but then several have been spending millions on their facilities already. I remember watching Bumble showing off Lancs revamped shiny expensive ground on TV and noticed they hadn’t bothered about the stands. “Outside” in more than one way.