Good campaigning by Lancashire supporters among others has helped keep 14 Championship matches next summer. A positive, coming as it does against a backdrop of falling membership numbers. Details on the data tab, but if county cricket wants to keep its followers the obvious message is give them something to follow.
So cue and queue familiar criticisms of the domestic schedule: that its competitions are under-valued, that not enough red-ball cricket is played in high summer, not enough white-ball is played at the weekend. To which yes obviously on the first, and on the extent of the second and third
County games in 2022.
And the players’ side of the things, the needs of England? The ECB’s review starts reasonably that England should aim for the top three in the game’s formats and be the best in one of them. It suggests there should be less cricket: that the players play too much, need more preparation and that there is too big a gap between the standard of county and international cricket.
But the play less perform better logic disappears when it comes to amount of Test cricket England plays: by some margin more than Australia and India, an extra three Test series a year over the horizon covered by the data in the review. So fewer Tests, more preparation time on the domestic circuit is what’s needed?
In another, better, world English cricket would not have been oversold to Sky. But given what funds the game, playing more domestic red-ball cricket than other countries, cricketers in England playing on more days, has its logic: keep the playing base as wide as can be, particularly maybe given the tendency to schedule tinker and how difficult it is to gauge the effects of past changes made to it.
In the golden summer of 2005 there were as now four domestic formats: the CC, the ODC, ‘a legacy Sunday League’ and a then relatively new T20 Cup in its third year, played in June and July during a break in the SL. If cricket did compromises playing The 100 in the middle of a Blast break might be one way of doing it, but whatever is or isn’t done the schedule needs a rhythm which it has had in the past and doesn’t have now.