System overhaul, Yardy’s party piece and one-day innovations

The country’s leading county players have urged the England and Wales Cricket Board to take their time on revamping of the domestic season in the hope that their concerns on scheduling and volume of cricket can be dealt with comprehensively. Feedback from this month’s Professional Cricketers’ Association on-line survey revealed that the majority would rather the ECB plump for a complete overhaul in 2012 than merely tinker with the structure for next season. However, the one caveat is that the Twenty20 competition reverts to more derby matches again following the gruelling travel involved in a north-south divide. The intense ‘short, sharp shock’ nature of the game transformed into ‘long, lasting ache’ for some teams – Worcestershire, for example, lost their local clash with Gloucestershire and traded it in for a nine-hour round trip to Durham.

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Yorkshire remain surprisingly upbeat about staging neutral international matches in future despite the financial hit taken during Pakistan’s quickfire Test victory over Australia. It may have proved the hardest of sells yet the hierarchy at Headingley believe hosting a Pakistan v India match would be a no-brainer. However, there will be serious repercussions for failure to make profit from the maiden venture with a further £250,000 set to be stripped from the club’s budget for the next financial year (job losses are seemingly inevitable). Yorkshire were already devising a strategy for spending cuts for 2011 – when there is no England fixture carded – and now plans for permanent floodlights and the redevelopment of the rugby stand end of the ground have been mothballed.

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The best captains, so they say, get to know the intricate differences in each of their players but none can have taken it to the extremes of Sussex’s Michael Yardy. His party piece is an ability to identify each of his team-mates blindfolded simply by feeling their ears. Having established himself in the England limited-overs set-up upon recall this year, it is as yet unclear whether he has been able to translate his complete county skills onto the international stage.

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Talk about attention to detail. Preparation for England’s elite cricketers has reached new levels in recent weeks with those centrally-contracted or on incremental deals booked in for advanced driving lessons following the new sponsorship tie-up with Jaguar. Handling the vehicles – which have more power than Formula One equivalents of a couple of decades ago – has not proved the major problem, however. That, for those that opted for the sporty XF model, has been the lack of room to house the kitbag!

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No wonder Cricket Australia’s plans to trial yet more innovations in one-day cricket have been met with indifference from the International Cricket Council. Amongst the proposals put forward for the new-look domestic 40-over matches down under in 2010-11, which will be split into two innings per side, is a nominated Super Striker to bat in both. You see, cricket and the word Super just ain’t meant to go together. Supersubs in one-day internationals were themselves withdrawn after just a year and the Super Series between Australia and the Rest of the World in the autumn of 2005 was so super that it was effectively scrapped before its inaugural Test had finished.

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