ECB considering big changes

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Radical suggestions to press for the shortening of Test matches and one-day internationals will come under consideration by the England and Wales Cricket Board this year.

The governing body confirmed on Wednesday the existence of a document, quoted by Cricinfo as containing plans for a streamlined county championship and the inauguration of a Premier League-style Twenty20 competition – possibly by reducing the number of home Test matches each summer.

The ‘Strategy Conversation Summary’ also reportedly records interest at the ECB in pushing for four-day rather than five-day Tests and – by the time the next World Cup is held in this country in 2019 – one-day internationals lasting only 40 instead of 50 overs per side.

It is understood the document is part of a raft of literature being drafted and exhaustive consultation to be undertaken in preparation for a review into the structure of English cricket, overseen by new ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.

The timetable of change appears to dictate publication of the review by early next year, and the beginning of implementation soon afterwards if appropriate.

An ECB spokesman said: “We are currently in the early stages of formulating a long-term strategy for the game in England and Wales, which we anticipate will take a year to complete.

“This strategy will involve an extensive game-wide consultation and reflect the views of all our key stakeholders and major partners. “

It marks a turn of events which ties in with a new guard of administration at the ECB, with chairman Colin Graves set to begin a five-year tenure after his election was confirmed on Tuesday.

His predecessor Giles Clarke is to become the ECB’s first president, a position created under an updated constitution which recognises the need for a full-time focus to be applied to this country’s representation in global discussions.

Graves has already spoken of his hope that an ‘English Premier League’ can be properly accommodated in the domestic summer – an intention which found immediate favour with former Test captains Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan.

Graves said: “When you look at cricket overall, I think it’s got some challenges ahead.

“The attendances at Test matches are going down; Twenty20 hasn’t been as successful as we thought it would have been; the 50-over competition is certainly not drawing in the crowds.

“I think we need to look at the way the county championship is structured, and how much cricket we play. I think we need to decongest the whole season … and I think we’ve got to look at an English Premier League somewhere – how we can fit that into the calendar.”

His remarks about dwindling attendances in specific formats have not met with an instant chorus of agreement.

But Vaughan and Pietersen are as one, and among many, as advocates of an Indian Premier League or Big Bash-style Twenty20 franchise competition in England.

Pietersen tweeted: “New @ECB_cricket chairman wants a T20 English franchise tournament! Absolutely brilliant! Forward thinking & brilliant for all players!”

A few hours earlier, Vaughan was also on Twitter voicing his approval.

“Great news for all Cricket fans in England,” he wrote.

Graves, such a success in the role he must now leave as Yorkshire chairman, has long had a vision too for English cricket.

He said: “At the end of five years, if people turn round and say ‘Colin Graves has changed English cricket for the good, and it’s more entertaining, better to watch …’, and everybody’s happier with the game, then I’ll be highly delighted.”

It seems the process is already under way.

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

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