Geese Laying Golden Eggs (and other cliches)

When I first read the broad details of Giles Clarke's 'plan' for the future of English domestic cricket on Cricinfo on Friday afternoon my blood ran cold. I've since recovered my equilibrium a bit, but it seems to me that the ideas prompt far more questions than they supply answers.

Now clearly Clarke's major motivation is to make more room in the calendar for Twenty20, which, as we all know, is the goose which is currently laying golden eggs all over the place. This, it is assumed, will include some sort of 'English Premier League' on the Indian model.

So far, so opportunist, but why seek to emasculate, confuse, and, in many people's eyes (including mine), ruin, the County Championship, which, in its current form is working as well as it has ever done (just ask Justin Langer, who's been lavishing it with praise recently)? Surely the way forward is simply to get rid of the far less relevant Pro40 League, which would allow a further expansion of Twenty20 to be easily accommodated.

But no, Clarke seems to have allowed himself to get a bit too caught up in Sir Allen Stanford's vision of the future, in which Twenty20 will take precedence over everything else, including Test cricket, and seems to believe that the Championship can be marginalised. He would presumably argue that the proposed conference system would provide an equally good proving ground for potential Test players as the current two division format, but I disagree. Strongly.

It was also surprising to find Clarke, who's customarily (and quite correctly) described as a 'successful businessman', arguing in favour of measures, apparently including a salary cap and the loaning out of overseas players to 'weaker' counties, to try to balance out the strength of the competing clubs. While aspects of this would be welcome, one's suspicion is that these ideas have been included simply as a means of ensuring the votes of these counties for proposals which most county administrators would otherwise tend to feel uncomfortable with.

The only completely good thing about the proposals is that the crackpot idea of returning to three day matches which was being put about a few weeks ago seems to have been dropped, but, as I've indicated, I'd be much happier if the focus of the plan was turned towards the Pro40 League and away from the Championship.

With reports of reduced crowds in the current English Twenty20 competition there are signs that, perhaps, the goose is already being asked to work a little bit too hard. Everyone involved, from Modi to Stanford to Clarke, needs to be very careful not to kill it stone dead. If this is managed properly, and the right balance between first-class and Twenty20 cricket is achieved, the future of the game can be ensured and enhanced. If it isn't it will be jeopardized, and, while it's very hard to work out what's going on in Giles Clarke's mind, I really doubt if he wants that.


cdak said...

I find myself agreeing with basically everything you've said. The key word there is 'balance', and too many people in authoritative positions seem blissfully unaware of it. Oh and thanks for the welcome!

Jrod said...

If Justin Langer lavishes something with praise, surely that is a good enough reason to abolish it.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, jrod. Very funny...

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