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LV= Insurance County Championship

31 October 2022

  • Stuart Cain confirmed the consensus view that the season should still consist of fourteen games, but to fit this in meant that there needed to be compromise elsewhere, such as the Blast and length of the Hundred.
  • Mark McCafferty explained that any decision on the format for 2024 needed to be made before the season started in 2023 so that players and Counties must understand the implications of where they finish and what it would mean moving forward.
  • There was resistance to a top division of six teams, with a number of people raising concerns about the Counties in other divisions and whether they would seriously compete if they couldn’t win anything meaningful. A series of alternative divisional structures were discussed, and Mark McCafferty supported the potential for the traditional two divisional structure to continue, but for us to consider eight teams in the First Division which was a step towards the high performance review principle of more ‘best v best.’
  • Symmetry was important to Members and players – so a division of eight teams would allow each to play home and away.
  • The idea of ‘pitch points’ was discussed and there is merit in the idea, but it needs thinking through properly.
  • Whilst there wasn’t an intention to reduce the volume of games, if it did ever change then Membership pricing would be reviewed, along with the impact on those that had bought three-year Memberships.
  • The league structure, if it is to change, will need to be decided soon so that people know what they are playing for in 2023 and if they will be able to move through leagues.
  • Some present did support a ten game County Championship, referencing that it was the biggest red ball league  in the world – but if it was reduced then it must have a dedicated window.
  • There was a pragmatism around the appeal of red ball cricket and the lack of crowds, but could this be addressed to some degree by better marketing and scheduling of games? Its role in developing players for the England Test team was also important.
  • The point about cricket finances was made a number of times. It was Sky’s money – which focused on the Hundred and international cricket – along with ticket revenue from the Blast and Hundred that effectively funded red ball cricket, so there had to be a balance when trying to prioritise the different forms of cricket.
  • Mark Robinson did feel that the game was changing and Members needed to accept that. Franchise cricket provided the chance for players to make previously unheard-of amounts of money, so why wouldn’t they want to play it? By trying to play too many formats at the same time, it increased injuries – in reality, most cricketers play two-thirds of their cricket in three months of the year. So, trying to balance the traditions of the game and particularly Test cricket, with the unstoppable forces of the future was very important in this debate.