Hilliard tells Morgan: let all counties make title bid

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.”

This entry was posted in County cricket, Essex, Featured Articles, Paul Hiscock and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Hilliard tells Morgan: let all counties make title bid

  1. GREG WADE says:

    IT,S OK HAVING A 18 TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP BUT THE PROBLEM IS TO MANY DEAD GAMES THIS SEASON NOTTS SLIPPED BADLEY FROM CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENTION BUT STILL HAD TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE BECAUSE OF THE FEAR OF RELEGATION I,M SURE THIS HAPPENS ALOT WHY ARE PEOPLE ALWAYS WANTING TO MUCK AROUND WITH THE 1ST CLASS CRICKET STRUCTURE4 DAY 2 DIVISION COUNTY CRICKET WORKS WHY CHANGE IT.TWENTY/20 WORKED WELL BUT THEY HAD TO PLAY ABOUT INCREASE THE GAMES AND NOW WE GOING BACK TO THE ORIGINAL SET UP NOW LETS GET BACK TO THE OLD BAND H AND KO COMPETITIONS OF 50 OVERS PLEASE AND STOP MESSING ABOUT FOR A FEW YEARS IF HE WANTS ESSEX TO HAVE A CHANCE OF WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP GET THEM IN THE FIRST DIVISION AND I,M A LEICESTERSHIRE MEMBER

  2. Sam Brodbeck says:

    I agree with Greg – far less dead games with two divisions. Cricket has enough format and calendar changes that put off fans, don’t lets add another

  3. Colin Stringer says:

    As an Esex member may I say I disagree with our chairman. Much as I dislike languishing in the second division, if we want to win the Championship again we will just have to get out of it. If we are not good enough to do so I can’t see we would fare any better under a different system. We would not be competing for the Championship just making up the numbers.

    Two divisions has helped deliver a number one England test team and exciting finishes over the last few seasons in both divisions. Again I disagree that England’s improvement is solely down to 4 day cricket. Let’s see how standards fall when we’re playing 4 day cricket in dead games.

    For me though the key point is competitive integrity. He is not necessarily asking for a return to one division but some alternative as yet unspecified format. I can only guess this would be some kind of conference format with perhaps a championship decider or a mini-league between the top teams.

    Yet in the current format each team plays each other home and away and it is as fair a way of deciding the champion county as is possible, for a game always at the mercy of the weather. You could not imagine a Premiership where Man Utd had to play Chelsea and Arsenal and Man City didn’t.

    If it aint broke don’t fix it is my view.

  4. Paddy Briggs says:

    Oh dear. Its deckchairs on the Titanic time again. Only when English cricket administrators get out of denial mode and start from the indisputable fact that the 18 County system is dead will real change occur. Read my lips. Having 18 top tier (sic) domestic teams (fighting for the main prize or not) cannot be paid for. Period. Most counties are bankrupt. The Championship gets derisory crowds in all but a tiny minority of instances. The system can only be funded by hand-outs from the ECB which requires the ECB to do Faustian deals with Sky and charge the highest prices in the world for International match tickets. It’s a shambles and the oligarchy at the top seems bent on perpetuating it. Will Morgan’s proposals make a happeny’s worth of difference – of course not.

    • Colin Stringer says:

      I don’t think county cricket is as bad as its painted, particularly by those who never watch it.. Clearly a game that is played when most people are at work is going to struggle to be self sufficient. But most counties have healthy memberships and one day and T20 income. Obviously the counties are dependent on handouts from the ECB but they in turn are dependent on the counties to produce the players for the England team.

      So what would your alternative system be to produce those players? Perhaps an eight team regional tournament of made up teams such as the Northern Numpties and the Southern Softies. This would be unlikely to provide the intensity of cricket required to produce test cricketers as, apart from the players, nobody would care about the results.
      It wouldn’t lessen the dependence on high ticket prices or Sky either as the system would have to be totally funded by the ECB.

      I agree that the current system could do with losing a few counties but I would hate to be the person that decides which ones should be dropped.

    • gregwade says:

      might be surprised to hear paddy but the whole worlds bankrupt
      don,t think a few county cricket clubs struggling going to make much difference if things as bad as you say just let the natural wastage happen and you will get your wish what is the ECB supposed to do with its money pay the so called superstars even more money then we could all be like the profit making well run soccer clubs foxes and tigers till i die