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Time for three divisions?

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Kevin Howells | 11:30 UK time, Tuesday, 15 November 2011

I have been persuaded that a radical shake-up of county cricket is needed.

After talking to several people involved at ECB and county level, I have decided to write down what I think should happen to the County Championship.

To accept this idea you do have to either agree that there are too many matches played at present or you are at least as fed up as I am about the number of times changes are discussed.

I don't like the idea that the Championship should be reduced to create space in the schedule, but I do concede that whilst protecting the first-class game one cannot ignore the money which the shorter formats - most notably T20 - brings in.

What is wrong with two divisions? Not a lot in my opinion and the most recent seasons have created some terrific stories.

However, those of us who like to think of the Championship as being more than just a set of trial matches need to lead the debate and not follow it.

So here goes with my solution.

Lancashire captain Glen Chapple

Glen Chapple's Lancashire would have had to play off for the County Championship title under Kevin Howells's plan to revamp the domestic first-class game (Getty Images).

Have three divisions of six teams (not conferences and not regional). Each team would play a minimum of 11 matches and a maximum of 12.

Matches 1-10 would be played home and away for league points.

Matches 11 and 12 would be play-offs and drawn matches, when the teams have the same points, would be decided by super overs.

In terms of the play-offs, firstly, the teams finishing second and third in each division would play one another. The winner would go on to play the side finishing top for the right to be crowned Champions.

In Divisions Two and Three the sides involved in match 12 would both be promoted.

At the other end of the table, those in fifth and sixth would play one another, the winner of which would then play the team in fourth. The winner of match 12 would stay up and the two losing sides from matches 11 and 12 would be relegated.

Those bottom three clubs in Division Three would be different. The bottom club would play twice, against the teams in fifth and fourth, needing to win both to avoid the wooden spoon.

Overcomplicated it may be but other sports work with even more complicated systems and they make them a success.

Are play-offs fair and good for the integrity of the competition? No. But most other professional sports have taken them on and the majority of supporters have bought into the entertainment and interest which they bring.

Of course the weather is a factor which most other sports don't have to contend with but this promotes entertainment and skills.

It may be tough on what might amount to the same teams in Division Three, but already in the current format promotion from the Second Division is seemingly unattainable for them.

However, this suggestion creates a new sense of challenge which should act as a good incentive.

As I wrote at the outset, if you don't see the need for change and you don't think the lobby for fewer matches will ever win their case, fair enough.

But also be certain that the lobby to remove two county teams from the 18 will not prevail. Fewer matches, in my mind, is the lesser evil.

If you do see the game losing its place even further at the table in the national media and in sporting awareness then at least give the idea some thought.

During the writing of this piece I spoke to someone on the phone on an unrelated matter.

I explained what I was doing and I could hear their despair, and he is someone who has followed and given a lot to the game for many years.

We will not fall out over it because he and I know that we both want what is best for county cricket.

I hope you have read it and think about it in the same spirit.

Changes will take place, I am sure, so let's grasp the issue now.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Dear Kevin,

    I think this plan needs one of two things adjusting - the number of teams playing off or the number of teams per division. There has to be some incentive to win or avoid coming bottom - automatic promotion or relegation, perhaps? Coming mid table and playing off for relegation/promotion seems to undermine the point completely.

    I like the idea of 10-12 matches, but this idea in full seems to relegate the playing for points throughout the season to borderline redundant. Oh, and as a Hampshire fan, I believe super overs are an evil incarnation which should be scrapped forever.

    Reading back through this comment, it sounds terribly harsh - really, I did like it!

    Harriet

  • Comment number 2.

    I'd prefer 2 divisions, with the top flight to mirror the World Test Championship, should it ever happen now 2013 has been cancelled.

    Div 1: 11 teams play each other once - Top four in Semi Final and final play offs (home advantages to higest placed teams at the end of the league phase).

    Bottom 2 teams relegated with to top two teams in Div 2 replacing them.

    Div 2: 7 teams play each other twice home and away.

    Other changes would be 4 points for a win, two for a draw or tie, 1 bonus point for 1st innings lead or for winning by an innings (the maximum 24 points avaialble for wins with bonus points for bowling and batting in the 1st innings is a big turn off for fans) - You either win or lose - no bonus points are avaialble in that format.

    Advantages:

    7 to 8 teams in the top flight should have something to play for going into the last round of matches, be that home advantage in the play offs, getting into the play offs or avoiding relegation.

    Div 2 would be more exciting and teams should have active promotion prospect longer into the season.

    English player on bye weeks could attend ECB skills and conditioning camps or have down tome with family, the latter players have little of in the current wall to wall fixture programme.

    The ideal number would be 12 to 14 matches but this require a change on the number of county teams, and I can't see turkeys voting for Christmas on that one.

  • Comment number 3.

    An interesting idea and worth debate. This would also allow consideration for minor counties and universities to consider a fourth division as well - as the number of games would not be impossible.
    But what about the 50 over county game that does not exist. If the ECB maintain that the 40 over game is the solution - then why do we not play a two innings 20 over smash, with the team batting first also batting last, with the other team batting innings two and three and an aggregate of the scores. More breaks will increase cost income at ground bars, shops and eateries, with entertaining cricket.

  • Comment number 4.

    Unbelievable. A season of 4 day cricket decided by a super over? Why not decide it with a game on the Xbox, or a game of football on the outfield?

    Solving the majority of English cricket's problems would be simple. 8 regional teams with a test ground as their income source - these 8 teams play 4 day f/c cricket. Each has 4 or 5 of the 38 counties feeding into them. All 38 counties are at the same level and play 4 day matches within their region. The 38 counties still play 20 and 40 over cricket nationally to generate their own income - this is the only cricket the fans watch at the county grounds anyway.

    Suddenly 4 day cricket would have increased in quality by 100% and would have sorted its issues re too many games.

    Lord MacLauren suggested it. The County Chairmen block it.

    English Cricket is on the up, be brave - take the next step.

  • Comment number 5.

    @TheCobraRHBOB

    This would mean scrapping a Test Ground, surely? I make the current UK Test Venues to be nine. Durham, Glamorgan, Hampshire, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, Yorkshire.

  • Comment number 6.

    Alright then, 9 regional teams. The idea still stands.

  • Comment number 7.

    Or you could have 6 regions, some of which have two test grounds - some have one. They are merely details though.

  • Comment number 8.

    How it could work:

    South East (Eagles!?)
    Test Ground: The Oval
    Counties: Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire (all also play in the SE 4 day Champ, & national 40/40 & T20 comps)

    Home Counties (Cavaliers!?)
    Test Ground: Lords
    Counties: Middlesex, Northants, Oxon, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire

    South West (Sharks!?)
    Test Grounds: Rose Bowl, SWALEC
    Counties: Glamorgan, Hampshire, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Wiltshire

    Midlands
    Test Ground: Edgebaston
    Counties: Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Staffs,

    North West
    Test Grounds: Old Trafford, Trent Bridge
    Counties: Lancashire, Notts, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Cheshire, Cumberland

    North East
    Test Grounds: Headingly, Chester le Street
    Counties: Yorkshire, Durham, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northumberland (Scotland)

    Would obviously require some player movement to even up counties/regions and each region would be guaranteed minimum one Test and two ODIs a year to maintain income.

  • Comment number 9.

    @8: CobraRHBOB.

    Why should Somerset have to give up Taunton? Somerset are run in a decent manner financially (compare that to the farce at the Swalec) and Taunton is a better pitch than both the Rose Bowl and the Swalec. Given the steps Somerset have made with regard to womens cricket, it would be absurd to eradicate Taunton.

    Destroying the County Championship in the way Kevin Howells describes baffles me. The last few years the CC has been an unqualified success on the pitch in terms of the quality of cricket played. Domestically the failures have all been in the limited over formats. The T20 is bloated and ridiculous and the Pro 40 overlong. The County Championship schedule has been picked apart and mucked about by the IPL, the domestic limited game, and by various critics, and yet the quality of cricket is at the very least still at a good level and quite conceivably has improved in quality over the last decade.

    Before messing the County Championship up yet again, the ECB should step back and look at the whole bidding process for Test matches as I feel this is the single biggest problem in county cricket right now. The issue of the Test arenas and the finances associated with them, both in terms of income and outgoings, is damaging.

    I utterly dislike the way people talk of how county teams can be disbanded. Why should Somerset, a team with a lengthy history including providing the most iconic player in English cricketing history, and a team which has consistently challenged for top honours over the last few years, be effectively disbanded whilst Durham, a side that doesn't have a lengthy first-class history is effectively retained by virtue of having stumped up cash for a Test arena? In essence, it's a promotion of the idea that those with the money should be the ones to be preserved.

    Kevin, in your discussions with the ECB and at county level, what were their opinions on the rubbish limited overs scheduling?

  • Comment number 10.

    @AndyPlowright

    Somerset wouldn't give up Taunton - they would play National 40/40 and T20 games there as well as their regional 4 day games against other sides in the South West region. The South West team may also choose to play one (or more) of their 4day fixtures against another region there.

    Another question might be - why should a young cricketer born in Somerset have better opportunities to one born over the border in Devon? This currently the case - but wouldn't be under my suggested system.

  • Comment number 11.

    Cobra:

    Fair enough on that front. I'm flicking through the various suggestions here and most of my reply outside of the opening paragraph was aimed at other people, not your good self.

    Personally I'd keep the CC as it is and figure out the right number of matches for the T20. It feels like the over-estimation of how many people would turn up for this year's T20 is a major problem for many counties. When it comes to the Pro40, it's a massively irrelevant competition. Somerset for instance have already made it clear that it's a low priority competition with the notion of resting Trescothick for the whole competition and playing young players, clearly with an eye to that elusive CC win and also the T20 Finals day and entry to the Champions League. Perhaps making the Pro40 a regional competition would be a good test bed for possible regional T20 teams to be formed.

    In answer to your question: well, a young player in Devon doesn't have better opportunity than one born in Somerset simply through location of birth. The Devon Cricket Board website has a few features on the loss of Peter Roebuck that mention Chris Read's rise to prominence. Being born in Paignton and his time playing for Devon (as he did at under-17 level as he dispatched me for plenty in the Festival Final played at Malvern College on his way to a century!) didn't stop him rising up the ranks, playing for England A I believe before he had made a first-class appearance (please correct me if I am wrong).

    Around Somerset, the public school system still dominates. Arul Suppiah, Craig Kieswetter, and James Hildreth are all Millfield old boys (Calum Haggett too), and the like of Alex Barrow, Craig Meschede, and Jos Buttler are Kings College OBs. Given that those gents mentioned have birth places ranging from Kuala Lumpar to Milton Keynes to South Africa, I'd say the place of birth matters not one jot. They had educational and sporting opportunities unavailable to many simply by virtue of their parents having some cash. As a comprehensive educated chap, I can safely say that 15 years ago the public schools dominated at youth representative level and that they still do when it comes to Somerset. I get the impression that other local counties such as Hampshire and Gloucestershire do have a scouting system that goes around the leagues far better. For example, Liam Dawson was playing for a small Wiltshire club called Goatacre (a place with one of the smallest pitches going), went to a state school, and ended up with Hampshire. Jon Lewis went to a comprehensive school in Swindon, was a couple of years up from me in the Wiltshire cricket squad, and has had a fine career at county and international level. In my opinion, there still isn't enough scouting going on around the amateur leagues for my liking.

  • Comment number 12.

    Andy,

    You recognise the problem, which is good. The Chris Reads and the Ian Bothams will always get through no matter where they are born - you are right.

    Our problem is that we rely on people being 'spotted' by scouts. People from minor counties often have to rely on a scout being present on a good day, or seeing a moment of magic - coaches from first class counties will see a lad born in that county play a hundred times in their county's U10 - U19 sides, they know that player. They may see a lad from the minor county twice or three times then either sign him up or write him off. It's madness.

    Take Jack Brooks as an example - he has been a breath of fresh air for Northants - but if he had had a bad back on the day of his Northants 'trial' game in the 2's and bowled poorly we'd never have seen him in the professional game.

    There are too many that miss out and I hate to say it, a few poor players who get signed off the back of hitting form in front of the right people.

    Some may say - does it matter if the best get through anyway? Well we are currently diluting the standard of our cricket with the haphazard way we pick up talent. All of our players might be 5% better if everyone had a fair crack at the professional game and it was stronger as a result.

  • Comment number 13.

    Oh dear Kevin, you really have been spending too much time with your rugby league colleagues.

    I quite like the idea of three divisions .. but play-offs ... why? It's not like they're going to get televised, which seems to be the only reason other sports have gone down that route.

    Do we need to play around with the points system ... hmm, not sure .. simpler yes, but don't the bonus poinst reward good batting/bowling? I fear we would end up with a 'win at all costs' mentality.

    I appreciate that things have to evolve, but think long and hard before risking throwing the baby out with bath water ... and Kevin, less time with play-off officionados please!

  • Comment number 14.

    Haven't we buggered around with the domestic structure enough? It seems barely a season goes by without one of the competitions being tinkered with and each change endangers the integrity of the competition. For me the one-day competition has already lost its kudos due to the fact that each year it seems to have a different format. There is a reason that the FA cup is revered throughout the world. It's because it has largely remained the same for over 100 years and so this year's winner can rightly be considered (more or less) equal to those in the later Victorian era.

    Play-offs are clearly an unfair way to determine the winner of a league competition as the team that has been most consistent over the season does not necessarily win. There seems to be an obsession at the moment with turning everything into a grand final most likely pushed by tv companies wanting to broadcast more "big" games. The whole point of a league is that this is not necessary. You can't imagine the premier league ever considering introducing such a thing! Cricket is becoming so money-obsessed we are losing sight of its actual purpose as a credible form of competitive sport.

    And as a footnote, the climax of the championship over the last few years has been almost unbearably exciting and we are the currently best test team in the world. What on earth do you want more?

  • Comment number 15.

    Hello Andy,
    Many thanks for your reply and others as well. Re Scheduling in limited overs cricket.
    Only this week a Director of Cricket said to me the big issue for him is the long hours travelling for a short game. Up and down the country for three or four hours of cricket.
    I don't think you can look at scheduling in isolation of one format to another. Some would like to persuade the broadcasters to demand fewer games. As I've said in the past I don't think showing a game a day is sustainable and if some common ground could be found it would open up some elbow room for Alan Fordham at the ECB.
    It's not the number of days played but the miles travelled to play them with teams in different divisions and regions in different competitions.
    Whilst protecting and rightly so the First Class game I think we need to be mindful of the extra people who come and watch one day cricket. Fewer games than those planned for next season maybe a backwards step?
    By the way talking with people since writing the above Blog I am more and more convinced three divisions will happen although not with play offs (pity). Also it might not be this review but the next. But why wait and go through process all over again.

  • Comment number 16.

    Cobra:

    I actually don't think too many poor players get into county cricket. I doubt that people get one match to prove themselves and that's that. The problem for me is that the counties have greater ties to major public schools than they do to some of the best league sides in their area and so miss a great deal of talent. This is especially true within the minor counties. When I played for Wiltshire, it was quite clear that you had to play for the right club in the right area or you wouldn't go as far as you could. The old networks still exist and it's to cricket's detriment that they do.

    Kevin:

    Thanks for the reply, very interesting reading. So the Director of Cricket who spoke to you didn't have any complaints about the number of games then and the main complaint was travelling distance? That's fairly funny. I guess that the idea of fewer games meaning reduced travel didn't come into play. Yes more people will come and watch one day cricket but it was pretty clear that there was a reduction in average spectator numbers at T20 games last year. If you increase the number of games your outgoings increase and when your spectator numbers aren't going up, then the logic is to decrease the number of games but to increase the quality of game provided. When Somerset played here in Bath at the Rec, my fuzzy memory is saying it was £20 to £25 a ticket. I think that's overpriced for a three hour county game. I know the counties offer discounts for kids but kids aren't the breadwinners. When money is tight for a lot of people (as suggested by the drop in spectators in Northern T20 games versus the South, somewhat mirroring the North-South employment and average salary gap), increasing the number of games seems very wrong to me. If it's been done in order to claim more Sky cash, then the ECB is going the wrong way about things.

    Sky won't reduce the number of games broadcast. When Sky get a contract signed, it stays. After all, we have the annual spectacle until 2013 of an utterly meaningless T20 match or two between the Windies and England to replace the Stanford Super Stupid Series. The players don't want it, I doubt both country boards want it, but Sky do want it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Now let's have a look at football. The old First Division was cut back and the Premier League was formed. A big glitzy league, foreign imports, television appeal worldwide... and as all of this happened, the standard of our international team got worse. Would the same happened to English cricket?

    I'd argue that we've already seen what might happen with India and the IPL. A big glitzy league, foreign imports, huge television appeal worldwide...after watching the current series against the West Indies, I dread to think how India will cope when Dravid, Tendulkar, and Laxman depart and are replaced by the young crop raised on modern cricketing values.

    We've seen footballesque values come into cricket commercially over the last decade. I hope it doesn't end up as foolish as Sandro Rosell's views in this report:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/15748287.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/15748287.stm

  • Comment number 18.

    :Geordieglover:

    "Cricket is becoming so money-obsessed we are losing sight of its actual purpose as a credible form of competitive sport."

    Totally, as we've seen with the delay of the Test Championship in favour of the facile Champions Trophy continuing at the behest of a broadcaster.

  • Comment number 19.

    Growing up pre-Ceefax and pre-bonus points, the simple image of the County Championship table published on the sports pages of newspapers only after the end of a round of three day games was almost magical, iconic to a child developing a love for the game, and studied earnestly. Yet I was quite prepared to accept the idea of two divisions and I think they have achieved a necessary improvement in standards.

    To decrease the number of games and to achieve it by creating three divisions would be undesirable and probably serve to fragment the game in this country, with poorer counties feeling truly cut adrift from the mainstream, with little hope of reaching the top level. It would be a very sad day if such a compromise became necessary.

  • Comment number 20.

    The only thing that needs to be done to the domestic schedule is to spread it out more evenly. The number of games in each format is about right as it is, the only problem is this silly idea that we have to bundle the competitions together rather than play them side-by side. At the moment we go through phases of complete overload of one format then sudden withdrawal. Play every CC game on the same four days of the week spread out through the year, and play the 10 T20 group games and quarter finals every Thursday or Friday evening from May - August.

  • Comment number 21.

    A good idea worthy of debate, though I feel a better option would be as follows:

    First reduce the size of the first division by two teams (by relegating three next year and promoting one).

    We now have two divisions with 7 in the top and 11 in the bottom.

    The top division play twelve games, six home and six away against the rest of the division.

    the lower division play ten games (five home and five away) playing the rest of the division once each; and then an extra two based on finishing positions: first and second play tenth and eleventh; third and fourth play eigth and ninth; fifth, sixth and seventh play each other - to make 12 games each in total.

    The final league table is then based on all 12 games and there is promotion /relegation as now.

  • Comment number 22.

    Kevin, I don't think the idea of 3 divisions is a bad one and maybe that could lead to Scotland, Ireland and a Unicorns-esque side being included (3 divisions of 7 - similar to the Pro 40). This may slightly undermine the reduction of fixtures by 2 games but the developmental benefits I think are worth it and think the Unicorns has been an unqualified success in giving released county players and up and coming youngsters on the minor counties circuit a chance to prove they can play at county level.

    However, like a number of other posters I believe the idea of play-offs is a big no-no.

    The other major sports in the UK with play-offs do it for reasons that are not relevant to cricket. Football does it to maintain interest in 24 team divisions at the end of the season and the 2 rugby codes do it at the behest of their broadcasters - given Sky give relatively small coverage to the county championship I'm not sure they would be all that bothered by play-offs.

    In terms of distance being travelled could it be an idea to re-regionalise the Pro 40 and maybe even go back to three groups in the T20 or at least better planning with the schedules - there was 1 instance for Somerset this season or last (pretty certain this one) and they played a championship match away, which finished on the Saturday, and on the Sunday the 2 same sides played each other in the Pro 40 but at Taunton. Surely the ECB can look at that and go that makes no sense what so ever.

  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry Kevin, but you’ve got it badly wrong here. Domestic cricket is far too complicated, your system would make it even worse. The problems of domestic cricket would be solved very easily:

    1) Reduce the number of first-class counties; making Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire minor counties

    2) Two division first class game – with one up/one down relegation; Twenty20 cup; 40 over cup

    3) Play first class games Wednesday – Saturday, making one day cricket a Sunday afternoon game – with occasional Friday games if the schedule allows

    4) The points system in the CC needs simplifying as well. Changing it to 5 points for a win; 1 point for a draw; 1 bonus point for scoring over 400 in the first innings and 1 bonus point for taking all 10 wickets in the first innings

    I’m an avid follower of domestic cricket, but I find it impossible to follow what is going on half the time because there is zero logic in the fixtures. It’s all dead simple to solve. It really is, it is a complete mystery why it all has to be so complicated? Have you ever tried explaining the domestic game to someone who doesn’t follow it?

  • Comment number 24.

    Please, no to 3 divisions. I'm a Bears fans so we've been blessed with regular division 1 status during the 2 Division era.

    The reason some counties are struggling is that if they are in Division 2 and lose 3 or 4 of their first five matches of the season, then it only leaves them with Limited over Cricket to play for. That means a team has apprimately seven 4 days home matches left in the season with little or nothing to play for in the eyes of the members and spectators. How will membership fair in a Division 3 county - especially the first 3 division "wooden spoon" county?

    I understand the theory behind giving every team something to play for in this manner but please look at the farce that is the Championship division in English Rugby union - it hasn't worked and has been a big turn off with fans, crowd numbers and revenue has fallen.

    I have to ask, where is the business sence of the business people running these counties if they are going to adopt this model. ECB and County Chairman, please, NO NO NO to three divisions. A county will go bankrupt if 3 Divisions are adopted, probebly the first Test Ground County to be relegated to Division 3.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi Kevin

    I'm not sure about 3 divisions, seems a little artificaial with only 6 teams each, however it may be how we have to go. I don't like the idea of corrupting the league format, the side that wins over the season should win the championship, however what about a couple of other ideas to add meaningful games to the season end:

    If we want to put some excitement into the end of season, how aboutbottom aned 2nd from bottom in top league play the top club and 2nd from top in lower division and to decide whether there is any promotion / relegation.

    Also how about a championship knockout cup at the end of the season in the longer format where all clubs play and have a 2nd chance to excel in the longer form.

  • Comment number 26.

    The major sports in the UK with play-offs do it for reasons that are not relevant to cricket. Football does it to maintain interest in 24 team divisions at the end of the season and the 2 rugby codes do it at the behest of their broadcasters - given Sky give relatively small coverage to the county championship I'm not sure they would be all that bothered by play-offs.

    In terms of distance being travelled could it be an idea to re-regionalise the Pro 40 and maybe even go back to three groups in the T20 or at least better planning with the schedules - there was 1 instance for Somerset this season or last (pretty certain this one) and they played a championship match away, which finished on the Saturday,

  • Comment number 27.

    I actually like two divisions and think it has been a success. Playing 16 games is a good test, allows some change of fortunes and ensures against too much domination by the weather. Ten or 12 games and you allow for fewer changes of fortune and risk rain affecting final standings. Also unless there are very strict rules on buying players and wages etc, a smaller first division will lead to the domination of a few teams with big budgets, which can buy in players.

    If you want to cut down on travel then do as others have suggested above: regionalise the one day competitions. Have four groups of five for the T20 (West, East, Midlands and North) and maybe for the pro-40 or even a knock out comp for the latter involving all the minor county sides.

    The numbers of T20 games are being cut anyway because of falling attendances in most grounds. Why sacrifice first class cricket for list A probs. Also why not market CC better, play on days when people can attend etc

    My worry is any proposal to cut the numbers in div one is driven by the test grounds. I can quite see the possibility of a tie in between div one franchises and TV and the rest go to oblivion. Rather than building on recent successes it would result in a narrowing of the basis for first class cricket with whole swathes of the country being shut out.

  • Comment number 28.

    Thanks for some more posts. All interesting and C Payne has a point. I had never considered adding sides to the competition but it is an option being strongly backed by a potentially influential figure.
    I'm told The chairman of the review David Morgan has spoken over a hundred people about what to do. He's keeping his cards close to his chest. If changes are made it seems they wont take place until 2014. Still three divisions or conferences is the favourite.

  • Comment number 29.

    I hate the process where the top team does not actually win the league - and there are play offs from the top teams to determine who actually does.

    This only works in RL because its a limited mainly regional game where this can be dictated to - it would never work in football, can you imagine Chelsea winning the league then having to go through a knockout comp to confirm it, or loose it?

    Footballers would not come to our league if this was the case, why would they? when they can go to a proper league where winning the league actually means something, not just you get into the knock out rounds for winning a 38 game league

  • Comment number 30.

    Cricketers play less than they used to at county level (it's only the international schedule that has become busier) so I don't think the County Cricket (particularly the first class aspect) needs to reorganise.

    If it were to, three divisions is the way to go, albeit without the complicated structure of end of season matches you seem obsessed with.

    Three leagues of 6, 5 home, 5 away. Winner of each division crowned champion and (in the case of 2nd and 3rd divisions) promotes, as does the runner up. Bottom two teams of division 1 and 2 relegate. Simple.

    There's no way a side who comes top of the league should have to play off for the title. If you're top after 10 games, you win.

    If there must be a playoff then have it for the second promotion spot, although if weather intervenes playoffs become messy for the four day game.


    Better yet, just start a week or two earlier, the weather is usually fine, and spread out the T20 (don't just cram it into one short period). if a tournament is going to be shrunk, reduce the Pro 40 and return it to a division-based system.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think increasing to 3 leagues is a very good idea, but I am not sure about the idea of play offs unless you keep it simple; i.e. bottom team relegated, top team promoted and then a play off between 2nd & 2nd bottom.
    I would also like to see added teams and I think we owe it to Scotland and Ireland to allow them in to play county cricket, and possibly Holland or another minor county.
    The last option I would like to see is relegation from the bottom division or, at worst, they play a one off play off against the top minor county.

    This way each team plays at least 12 4-day games and there is more cometitiveness and interest til the end of the season - especially if our champions get to play a moneyspinner against (for instance) the Australian champions.

  • Comment number 32.

    Seems to be all about 'How can we generate cash' rather than anything to do with cricket. Nothing changes.

  • Comment number 33.

    Three divisions? Possibly. However, have you any idea what the bottom division would be like? I have just spent three seasons watching my county of convenience playing second division cricket and the standard is mostly woeful. If you had the bottom six teams playing each other it would drive you to drink or to giving up on County Cricket altogether. The current second division teams tend to complain that they can't do better because they have no money but Lancashire have just proved you can be Champions with no money so that argument won't hold any longer.

    We are talking county championship here, so why are we thinking of including other countries (Ireland, Scotland, Holland?) or made up Unicorn style teams?

    Definitely no to play-offs. It would add to the burden which we are hoping to reduce.

    Best wishes

    LMAV

 

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