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The standard of current four day championship cricket in Division one is very high.  The above was an exciting match from an exciting and tense 2008 season.  But Mr Collier is on the record as saying ” the cost of a new-look County Championship will be the loss of some of the integrity of the two-division structure.” So change, but not progress; worrying.

Angus Porter of the Professional Cricketer’s Association has called for clarity and early decisions from the ECB as to what it’s proposals are for the Championship, and reduction of matches not only in the Championship but also other forms of domestic county cricket.

“I do not think the players would necessarily go with the Championship as the only place to reduce. They also want a closer look at 40-over cricket and I think they are nervous that we might be overdoing Twenty20″…..

“We must make sure we structure the schedule correctly in 2011 and beyond to fit in the right amount of cricket and move from quantity to quality.”

The players want a reduction in total playing days, and for that reduction to be honoured and not turned into some other add on to a different competition.  Some rational, some sense.

The mismatch of the MCC v Durham clash, where the MCC side was drawn mainly from the second division should have been enough to kill off any idea that randomly drawn conferences would be useful to the further development of the game or player quality.

Change does not always make things better.  What are the ECB actually trying to achieve?

Cut down the number of matches? There are many ways of doing that, but not all of them will result in less, but more challenging games.

More meaningful challenging cricket?  So less matches and matches of an intensity that pits the best against the best.  Where players are ready, rested and at their peak to perform to the max.

So merit groups or a random groups?  The ECB has yet to come out about how they view either in terms of better quality cricket.

A conference of non merit groups [either totally random or regional]; more mismatched matches, less testing cricket for the best players, and those matches will be less of a spectacle for any spectators not turned off by the prospect.

MCC v Durham type standard  is what you would get more of, not less; so a greater proportion of dross, and less games.  Most matches would be dross.

So conference match reduction; the players get more time to rest, travel less, but waste that precious playing time, and that of any spectators.  People turning out for a ‘rare and supposed spectacle of a damp squib’ – I think not. [And in the cold of an April day,  give us a break….]

I have yet to find anyone who actively watches county cricket [rather than just writes about it] that is in favour of non merit groupings.

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