Essex coach Paul Grayson has welcomed the scheduling of matches in the recently-published 2012 domestic fixture list.
“Although there’s an early start and we do have four County Championship matches in the first month of the season, there is a 10 or 11-day break between our first match in the competition when we meet Gloucestershire at Chelmsford and the next match when we go to my former county Yorkshire,” he said.
“So we’ll have to make sure that we keep the lads entertained and occupied between those two games and we might even organise a two-day friendly match just to keep things ticking over.
“Overall, the fixtures during the season look better organised than last season. We also have a bit of a break before we start the Twenty20 Cup competition and that’s good because it will give us a chance to prepare and practice for this form of the game.
“Last year, I think we went straight from a Championship match at Bristol down to Hove with no time for preparation for Twenty20. This time around, we have a five-day break before we start our t20 games so that should be of benefit to us and we might even have a couple of Twenty20 practice games in that period to help our preparation.”
Last year, Essex spent countless hours on motorways travelling between matches with little respite or time to hone their skills but Grayson is philosophical about those demands.
“It’s part of being a professional player these days, as you are on the road a lot, but we have a good lifestyle and our lads never moaned at all – they just got on with it. But yes, we want to be able to give every player the opportunity to perform to their best and so practice and rest are important.”
Looking to the future, and David Morgan’s blueprint for the domestic game from 2014, Grayson believes that the concept has much to recommend it. “Personally, I like 40-overs cricket and, as a club, we like 40-overs cricket, but I do think that whatever we do at domestic level should mirror what happens at international level. So, in that respect, I think we should revert to 50-overs cricket.”
Morgan’s suggestion of a two-match reduction in the County Championship programme also wins Grayson’s support. “I think everyone agrees that we probably play a little too much four-day cricket and if we can reduce that down to 14 games, it would be nice,” he added. “But can we get a format that keeps everyone happy? I doubt it.”