County cricket structure for 2011 labelled 'madness'

>> Friday, October 22, 2010

As Telegraph Sport revealed on Wednesday, a working party set up by the ECB this month took the early decision not to tinker with next season's structure, including retaining a 16-match per county Twenty20 competition.

The working party agreed that the amount of county cricket needs to be reduced by between eight and 12 days per season but recommended that there should be no change to the three domestic competitions until 2012. This year's format was widely regarded as the most congested and chaotic ever with little time for layers to adapt from the three different formats – four day, Twenty20 and 40 overs – and next season's schedule is unlikely to be any better.

"I think it's absolute madness," said the senior chief executive, who asked not to be named. "It was chaos last year and it will be chaos next year because the fixture list will be exactly the same. " The ECB working party decided to make a decision on next season's structure at the first of two scheduled meetings to enable cash-strapped counties start selling sponsorship and membership packages. The ECB set up the working party after a number of smaller counties, led by Essex, Somerset and Sussex, opposed proposals to reduce the number of T20 matches to 10 per county, which they said would mean a six-figure loss in income.

"I don't think we had any choice but to keep the same structure," said Sussex chief executive Dave Brooks, who sat on the working party. "This season's fixture list was a bit unpleasant but there is little point in jumping rashly from one structure to another. At least we know what to expect next season." Next season's fixture list is now unlikely to be published before the end of November. Younis Khan's future as Warwickshire's overseas player has been thrown into doubt by the former Pakistan captain's return to international cricket. Gloucestershire have been forced to release Kadeer Ali, Rob Woodman and Steve Snell from their contracts because of cuts to their playing budget. Northamptonshire have signed paceman Luke Evans on a two-year contract from Durham.

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