Brooks: county sustainability the key

One of the men tasked with putting together a new structure for the county game insists players, spectators and the clubs themselves will get plenty of time to digest their proposals for the 2012 season.

Sussex chief executive Dave Brooks is a member of the structure group charged with coming up with a “coherent and balanced” fixture list which would include 8-12 days less cricket than at present.

The group, under the leadership of England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier, met this week and concluded that, with most counties already committed financially to players and other expenditure, there wasn’t enough time to implement changes for the 2011 season.

They will meet again in early November before presenting their preliminary recommendations for the three years from 2012 on November 17.

As well as trimming the number of playing days by either reducing the County Championship or Friends Provident t20 programme, they are likely to propose changing the Clydesdale Bank 40-over competition to five groups of four, with a quarter-final round, which would shave three or four days off the calendar.

Brooks says the priority in their negotiations is to ensure that counties know before the start of next season what they are playing for in 2012.

He said: “I would hope that by February or March next year it will be clear what is going to happen from 2012 onwards.

“The first half of Wednesday’s meeting was about agreeing a consensus for 2011 and the conclusion was that it was too late to make changes because of the commitments counties have already made.

“We then kicked around various ideas going forward involving all three competitions. We don’t want the goalposts moved halfway through next season which is why when we next meet we will come up with some firm recommendations, which subject to further research will hopefully be ratified well in time for the start of next season.

“It is time to come up with the best solution for sustainable county cricket and sustainable county clubs.”

Counties will welcome some decisive action although coaches and players, who have been advocating a reduction in the playing programme for a long time now, will be disappointed that they face another gruelling schedule like this last summer in 2011.

But cricket supporters are entitled to ask why it has taken so long. Collier came up with five proposals back in May but one which was not suggested – no change at all – proved more popular than the others among the counties.

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