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Sir Andrew Strauss’ English cricket high-performance review recommends reduction to county cricket schedule

The document states that “this review has not looked at, and will not seek to change, the number of first-class counties”; the current mark of 14 first-class fixtures is set to remain in 2023 while consensus is sought, but shrinking the domestic schedule said to be a priority

Last Updated: 26/08/22 1:14pm


Andrew Strauss arrives on day six of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 6, 2019. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Philip

A slimmed-down top division in the County Championship and a reduction in overall playing days are among the initial recommendations of Sir Andrew Strauss’ high-performance review into English cricket.

On Friday, Strauss made public the consultation document his review sent to the first-class counties on Thursday evening. The document states early on, that “this review has not looked at, and will not seek to change, the number of first-class counties”.

The current mark of 14 first-class fixtures is set to remain next season while consensus is sought, but in a blog published by the ECB, Strauss has made it clear shrinking the current domestic schedule is a priority.

Strauss, whose panel of experts for the review includes Sir Dave Brailsford, Dan Ashworth and current director of England men’s cricket Rob Key, wrote: “Initial options for the game to discuss include a revamped 50-over competition and a smaller LV= Insurance County Championship top division to ensure higher standards and more intense best v best red-ball cricket.

Sir Andrew Strauss and Michael Atherton discuss England's domestic cricket structure and the challenges it presents as Strauss heads up the ECB's high-performance review that is set to give its recommendations in September.

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Sir Andrew Strauss and Michael Atherton discuss England’s domestic cricket structure and the challenges it presents as Strauss heads up the ECB’s high-performance review that is set to give its recommendations in September.

Sir Andrew Strauss and Michael Atherton discuss England’s domestic cricket structure and the challenges it presents as Strauss heads up the ECB’s high-performance review that is set to give its recommendations in September.

“Our research shows that the first-class counties play a higher volume of cricket compared to the rest of the world, while feedback from players is that a reduction in the amount of men’s domestic cricket played is essential.

“We have made our initial proposals and findings and now it will be for the first-class counties to make any decisions over domestic structures – all we can do is provide them with informed recommendations.

“We want a thriving and future-proofed men’s domestic game, in which all 18 first-class counties are established at the heart of our ambitions.”

The review, led by the former England captain and director of men’s cricket, has been conducting a broad assessment of the men’s game, prompted in part by the team’s 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Australia in last winter’s Ashes.

In terms of the national side, Strauss added he was keen to make England men’s central contracts “multi-year”, with a higher allocation to those who play more than one format as the game contents with a bloated international calendar and the lure of franchise white-ball tournaments around the world.

Strauss added: “From an England perspective the proposals look at how we could evolve central contracts to offer more security to our high-profile players and better reflect the changing dynamics in the world game.”

Also among the recommendations is a proposed move for the domestic 50-over competition – currently played at the same time as The Hundred – to the start of the season, “with a smaller group stage and emphasis on knockouts”.

There is a wish for a greater emphasis to be placed on England Lions’ red-ball cricket, as well as North v South red-ball fixtures in the UAE before the season begins to expose players of potential to overseas conditions.



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