Sunday, 6 September 2009

The future of the County Championship

Perhaps the ECB are tinkering with the wrong domestic competition. Amidst all the recent talk about the abolition of the Friends Provident Trophy, and the reprieve for the 40-over game, little has been said about the ultimate test for the county cricketer, the County Championship.

The Championship is held in more affection by the cricketing public than the ECB realise. Rather than treating it like the black sheep of the domestic game, the following modifications would give it the prominence it deserves:

1. Each county should start the season with an equal chance of winning the title. Replace the first and second divisions with two or three equal groups.

2. Let the season culminate with a showpiece final at Lords between the two best first class teams of the season - the winners of each group or (in the case of three groups) the winners of two semi-finals.

3. Each game in a round of matches should start on the same day to make the table more meaningful and easier to follow, with weekends included wherever possible. Play less matches to allow centrally contracted players to appear.

4. Simplify the scoring system. It is absurd that the points column currently requires the use of decimal points. Three or five points points for win, one for a draw and none for a loss.

5. Ensure that grounds are more spectator friendly. Keep ticket prices down and the crowd informed with decent public address systems.

We mustn't give up on the County Championship. The implementation of all, or some, of these points could even turn it into a money maker. They would certainly make for an even more vibrant competition and improve the standard of the national team.

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