Counties have opposed plans to revert to a 50-over domestic limited-overs competition aimed at improving England’s one-day international fortunes.
The switch to 50 overs from the current 40-over format was one of the key planks of the Morgan Report which was debated by county chairmen and chief executives at a meeting at Lord’s on January 23.
In his report, former ECB chairman David Morgan suggested that the format for domestic one-day cricket should mirror that played at international level but the counties felt that their commercial needs had been overlooked by Morgan.
The Clydesdale Bank 40 competition has proved more popular with spectators than when it was a 50-over format, with the majority of matches starting on Sunday afternoons. There was little enthusiasm from counties to reverting to Sunday morning starts, which would be necessary if the number of overs were increased.
A reduction in the number of County Championship matches from 16 per county to 14 was accepted but there was disagreement on the proposed format.
The Morgan Report recommends retaining two divisions of nine counties even though that would create an imbalanced fixture list with counties playing some sides twice but others only once.
The majority of counties prefer a first division of eight and a second division of ten which would allow for a more symmetrical fixture list.
The ECB board, which has already accepted the Morgan Report in principle, will now discuss a report from the counties’ meeting when they next meet in March.
Yet, having said that would accept the Morgan Report in full, or not at all, it appears that the board might have painted themselves into a corner.
If the ECB board permits some adjustment to Morgan’s recommendations to reflect the views of counties there is a danger that his entire report will be discredited.
But if they ignore the strength of feeling demonstrated by counties at yesterday’s meeting, the ECB runs the risk of more widespread discontent in the shires.