London, April 20 (IANS) County cricket could see a radical change — including the 18 sides competing across three formats to crown the overall champion — as England great Andrew Strauss is planning a major shake-up of domestic cricket following the Test side’s Ashes debacle.
Strauss, who was England cricket’s managing director on an interim basis before Rob Key took over recently, will be conducting a “high performance review” of domestic cricket, and a report in dailymail.co.uk said that it has emerged that a “(multi-) format similar to that used to decide the women’s Ashes could be put in place to decide the county champions”.
The report said that if such a thing happens, it would be “the most radical changes to English cricket since the one-day game’s launch in 1963, with the merger of the County Championship, One-Day Cup and T20 Blast in a format similar to that used to decide the women’s Ashes”.
Strauss’s high-performance review is scheduled to begin next month following Rob Key being appointed managing director of England men’s cricket this week.
Strauss’ review would include reviewing of the “whole professional game” with emphasis being on a red-ball reset by improving the standard of Championship cricket.
Former England Test captain Joe Root, who stepped down recently following series losses in Australia and the Caribbean, has been critical of the County system, saying, “Anyone that’s coming into this Test team at the minute is doing it in spite of county cricket, not because of county cricket. There are definitely things that need to change.”
The report said that Strauss will present the recommendations to the ECB and county chairs later this summer, before a seal of approval is put on the changes in September.
“The idea of the 18 counties competing across all formats to find one champion is an attempt to keep the existing first-class structure in place while reducing the volume of domestic cricket. Influential figures including Key favour a move from the current 10/8 two-division Championship to three divisions of six, although smaller counties oppose this due to fears they would ultimately lose their first-class status,” said the report.
“Under the champion county format, all three competitions would be split into three divisions of six based on the previous season’s finishing positions. While all three formats would continue to run as stand-alone competitions, with the hugely popular Twenty20 finals day remaining on the calendar, there would be an overall league table with points awarded for results in each discipline,” the report added.
Multi-format series have been a success in women’s cricket with the latest being the women’s Ashes series where the rival teams played a one-off Test, an ODI and a T20I series and the points aggregate decided the winner. Australia Women won the series defeating England 12-4 just before the ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.
The backing of 12 counties will be needed to introduce any changes, the report added.