S.N. Don's blog
One Man and His Dog Part 2
Last time around, I rambled about revamping the points scoring system for the County Championship and promised more to come in Part 2. Little was I to know that the events in the last round of fixtures would result in a really exciting climax with the result going down to the final session on the final day. I will leave comments and grumblings about match fixing to someone else. Suffice to say that Freddie is a very happy man. I couldn’t complain either having seen the whole of the Yorkshire 2nd innings for only £5. My only grumble was that Somerset didn’t win it in the end.
Yet how many contracted England players made it onto the field of play during this last week of the season? Wouldn’t it have been far more entertaining to have seen how Root and Bairstow would have fared? It is shades of when Bob Willis actually turned out for Warwickshire for a County Championship fixture when some wag shouted out “Bowler’s name” as Bob came on to bowl.
Back to this part 2 thing and I have been wracking my brains trying to remember what it was that had got me so hot under the collar. Following the success of the last round of matches it has probably rendered this article as completely superfluous considering the interest that it generated. However, the juices have started to flow and nothing is going to stop me. In any event, if my proposal is considered daft, half-baked or just complete drivel, again blame Freddie as he has given me a deadline of 7pm today and it is already past 2pm.
I am going to completely ignore the prospect of a crowded fixture list as well as the increased workload on players. This is purely from a quality perspective and to give the best County players a chance to play in a more rarefied environment. By all means keep the existing two division structure but introduce a competition on top of what currently exists. Not dissimilar to what I proposed a couple of editions back, I would look to group all 18 first class counties into 6 super counties. The breakdown would be thus:
Team A – Durham, Yorkshire, Derbyshire
Team B – Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire
Team C – Kent, Sussex, Surrey
Team D – Hampshire, Middlesex, Essex
Team E – Somerset, Gloucestershire, Glamorgan
Team F – Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Lancashire
The nine best English players from each group would be joined by a maximum of two overseas players and the fixtures played on a league basis but with no more than five matches per season. The grounds where the games would be played would be of test status so, in effect, you would have the best non-ECB contracted players playing against each other in the best stadia. Selection criteria could be based on a number of conditions and for this I would engage the support from the first class umpiring fraternity. They get to see the players in action at close quarters and as they will have had fairly solid first class careers, would recognise the emerging talent. The format could be extended to ECB contracted players to prove their fitness after injury. I would also look at having the fixtures starting on a Saturday in order to maximise gate revenues. A friend of mine who is a Surrey member bemoans the lack of county cricket on a Saturday.
The likes of Jimmy Anderson won’t be around for ever. One of the many comments that have spouted forth from Sir Geoffrey of Boycott, and this was a couple of years ago; the lack of a top class swing bowler to step into Jimmy’s Choos when he retires is worrying. This new competition may just unearth Jimmy’s successor. It might also help to resolve the nightmare that is the opening batsman slot alongside Alistair Cook.