ECB report proposes reduction in County Championship matches

The proposed changes include reduction of number of fixtures and top division teams in the County Championship, T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup.

The report proposed a six-team top County Championship division from 2024, with a 12-team second division split into two conferences vying for one promotion place.

The report proposed a six-team top County Championship division from 2024, with a 12-team second division split into two conferences vying for one promotion place. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The proposed changes include reduction of number of fixtures and top division teams in the County Championship, T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup.

A new-look County Championship and a reduced fixture list across all formats are among the recommendations proposed in the high-performance review of men’s cricket in England, published by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Thursday.

The review, commissioned after England’s Ashes debacle in January, was led by former captain Andrew Strauss, who also served as the ECB’s interim director of cricket after Ashley Giles was sacked in February.

“We must be open-minded to change,” said Strauss, whose aim is for England to be ranked in the top three in the world across tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals, and number one in at least one format, within five years.

“The most consistent message we have received, from players to fans and coaches, was that the status quo is not an option.”

The report proposed a six-team top County Championship division from 2024, with a 12-team second division split into two conferences vying for one promotion place.

The panel also advocated for a reduction in matches per team from 14 to 10. The remodelled Championship would start in May and end in September, either side of a window for The Hundred tournament in August.

The T20 Blast would also be reduced from 14 to 10 matches per county and run from May to July, with the One-Day Cup moved to April as a curtain-raising knockout tournament.

Fifteen of the 17 recommendations fall within the ECB’s remit. The other two proposals involving a major overhaul of the domestic schedule need the support of at least 12 of the 18 first-class counties to be implemented.

“I encourage people to consider our proposals as a package, and I welcome the opportunity for informed debate on the recommended changes to the men’s domestic structure,” Strauss said.

“The recommendations have prioritised a more coherent schedule which is more manageable for overworked players, coaches and groundstaff while providing the quality and quantity of cricket that fans want to watch and which meets our high-performance objectives.”

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