Essex chairman Nigel Hilliard would like to see the introduction of a system in which all 18 counties have the opportunity to win the County Championship title.
“At present, there are nine counties each year that are never going to have that chance,” he said. “The argument put forward for two-division cricket is that it has improved the standard and has made more competition but, in my view, what has improved the standard is in fact four-day cricket.
“Since we went to the four-day game, the standard achieved by county cricket for providing players for Test matches has vastly improved and that’s because they have become used to the system and are better prepared.
“To say that’s because of the first division is rubbish because you only have to look at the number of players that progress into all the various England squads that we now have, and there are a lot from the second division.”
Counties are currently awaiting the findings of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s review of the business operations of domestic cricket. Earlier this year, the ECB appointed former chairman David Morgan, assisted by ECB managing director Gordon Hollins, to research and analyse the best models of business practice for the counties and their findings are expected before the end of this year.
At the time the review was set-up, current ECB chairman Giles Clarke said: “County cricket continues to attract significant support from spectators, broadcasters and sponsors alike and we want to ensure that we have a robust, long-term strategy in place for safeguarding our domestic game and continuing to produce a constant flow of talent from playground to the international arena.”
Hilliard added: “I wouldn’t say that we necessarily need to return to one-division cricket but there are a number of formats that could be introduced to ensure that everybody has got the opportunity of winning the title. I have, in fact, put my suggestions forward as a discussion point as to how this could be achieved but whether there will be any change, I don’t know. I wouldn’t hold your breath.”