21st May: Chennai Super Kings v M. Indians, 14:30 GMT
16th-20th May: 1st Test, Lord's
Former England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman David Morgan handed his long-awaited report on the “business of domestic cricket” to the ECB at its board meeting at Lord’s today. Morgan was tasked with conducting an extensive review of the county game earlier this year and has canvassed for opinions widely over the summer.
A statement from the ECB read: “The board congratulated David Morgan on the extensive consultation which has taken place with in excess of 300 individuals including players, supporters, media, coaches, county chairmen, county chief executives and ECB officials.”
The key suggestions from the report, which are still far from being implemented, are that from 2014 – when the current broadcast deal with Sky ends – the county game should consist of 14, as opposed to 16, County Championship matches; 10, as opposed to 12, limited-overs matches; and retain the 14 Twenty20 matches that are scheduled for 2012. This would result in there being 10 less days of cricket in the domestic calendar and would be welcomed by players for that reason.
Other proposals include that the Twenty20 competition should be played throughout the majority of the season on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays rather than in its current midsummer block, and that Championship matches should start consistently on Fridays in the early season; Sundays in mid-season; and Mondays at the end of the year.
A change in the funding of counties, with more emphasis on the Performance Related Fee Payments (PRFP) that encourage the fielding of young players, was also mooted.
A passionate reaction from both fans and counties alike is expected towards these proposals in the coming days, with some reactions likely to be more favourable than others.
Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that the ECB has conducted numerous reviews over the years into the commercial viability of county cricket with many simply dismissed by the 18 first-class counties when it came to a vote. Whether the ECB will be more successful this time remains to be seen.
© Cricket World 2011
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