With the prospect of some sunshine in the next few days and Tony having reminded us in yesterday's posting that in six weeks willow and leather will renew acquaintance, you might be feeling upbeat this morning but unless I have gauged our readership wrongly I am about to bring you back to earth. The source of my irritation is an article published in The Times last week by Elizabeth Ammon, aka 'Leg Side Lizzie', in which she reveals details of the ECB's new Twenty20 competition to be introduced in 2020. The article is based on access Ms Ammon has had to a memo that has been sent to county executives.
As far back as July news broke that the ECB was planning a radical overhaul of English cricket and at that time it seemed possible that the changes might be introduced as early as 2018. By October the start date had been pushed back to 2020 in order that it would become part of a new TV deal when the current one expires in 2019. Driving the leaked proposals, the sweetheart of ECB Chairman Colin Graves and Chief Executive Tom Harrison, is the creation of a T20 competition that will rival the IPL and Australia's Big Bash, the basics of which are
- Eight 15 man squads to include three overseas players, 13 of whom will be chosen via a possibly televised draft, the remaining two will be wild cards chosen after the Nat West Blast is finished
- All county players, unless they opt out, plus any overseas who wish to be included , will also be in the draft in three different salary bands
- The tournament will run from mid July alongside a fifty over competition
- The 36 games will be played over 38 days but England players will not be available as test matches will be played at the same time
The consultation document does not say where the 8 teams might be based and this is likely to be the most contentious issue. Ms Ammon's article goes into detail on the tortuous process of elimination required to get 38 down to the final 2, and also touches upon issues like the replacement of injured players and the appointment of coaches.
There is no reference to the county championship which presumably, if it survives at all. will be the bookends of the season. The article offers readers the opportunity to comment and here are some extracts
MR JRG Edwards 'utter Byzantine complexity, little if any thought has been given to the notion of supporter loyalty. 'the slow death of English cricket'
The Fox 'County Cricket died. February 2017 RIP'.
and in the interests of fairness and balance
David Harrington 'This is fantastic news! Maybe it could be the beginning of the end of the counties rule over English cricket. Now there's a happy thought'.
Access to the full article can be gained via twitter @legsidelizzy, retweeted on Feb 10th