The Church of England, the Conservative party and county cricket: personally only one of them has been of more than just passing relevance, but if the workings of god and power have been centralised, why would play be different?
Certainly the numbers of county members since 2005 show more downs than ups: a particularly large one at Old Trafford but also at Canterbury, Hove and Worcester, the traditional heartlands of the county game. As for the smaller ones in the East Midlands, member numbers last year had fallen below 1,000 at Derby and Leicester.
But this pattern is not true everywhere: some have been steadier, even the other way, and Surrey, the biggest, is a big exception. The chair, Richard Thompson evidently appreciates the existence of a membership body, elections to the club’s general committee are contested. Taken together with the MCC and Middlesex, members of cricket clubs in London now number 40,000, if not more. Nationally though the total for the 15 county clubs (Durham, Hants and Northants are organised differently) fell to 65,000 or so before Covid.
No great surprise there given a problematic fixture schedule. So wither, sooner or later adieu to many, if not all, of the 18, the future is franchises? The 100 teams to be sure are in large part managed by county CEOs ‘centralising’, all that is needed then is enough of the 18 chairs to follow ? Maybe, but not necessarily, and after the shift from Giles Clarke (Somerset) to the years of Colin Graves (Yorkshire) as ECB chair, the direction may change again.