ECB to review proposed county cricket reforms next month

Ex-Kent cricketer Dave Fulton issues his backing for the proposed county cricket reforms, which the ECB will review next month

graeme swann
Graeme Swann is one of those to have questioned the importance of 50-over cricket in today's game

graeme swann

The England and Wales Cricket Board will review recommendations made by former chairman David Morgan about reforms to the county game next month.

Morgan’s report includes proposals to reduce the number of County Championship matches from 16 to 14 and revert back to a 50-over competition in place of the CB40, from 2014.

But perhaps more importantly, an ECB directive to encourage more people to attend domestic matches underpins the report.

Attendance figures fell across the country last season and a number of counties reported significant financial losses, with Leicestershire chief executive Mike Siddall admitting his club is “struggling to stay in business”.

Current ECB chairman Giles Clarke, said: “County cricket continues to attract significant support from spectators, broadcasters and sponsors alike and we want to ensure that we have a robust, long-term strategy in place for safeguarding our domestic game and continuing to produce a constant flow of talent from playground to the international arena.

“We need to examine all aspects of our business operations and consult widely with all our key stakeholders across the game as well as the wider leisure and entertainment industry.”

Although the proposed reforms have divided opinion between cricket fans and professionals alike, ex-Kent batsman David Fulton believes they are a step in the right direction.

“I think they’re moving along the right lines with the new reforms. You’re never going to keep everyone happy, but it looks like a pragmatic report,” Fulton told The Sport Review.

“You need to establish a schedule that repeats itself so fans can look at it and can easily plan what day or days they want to go and watch.”

The proposal to scrap the current CB40 competition and revert back to 50-over cricket comes in the wake of a number of inconsistent ODI performances from England in recent years.

Many people, including star-bowler Graeme Swann, have questioned the importance of 50-over cricket in today’s game, but the World Cup remains one of international cricket’s most coveted prizes.

England’s recent ODI tour of India highlighted their inability to score in the middle overs against spin bowlers, and this is a particular issue the reforms will look to appease.

“I think it will be a welcome change,” said Fulton. “County cricket is there to support the international stage and I think if you’re going to play one day internationals then you should play 50 over cricket domestically as well.

“People question what the difference between 40 and 50 over cricket is but I actually think it’s quite big. You have to have specific game plans for each format.”

What decision the ECB takes next month remains to be seen, but it is clear that something must be done to protect the future of county cricket, and preserve its position as a support platform for the international stage.

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