A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: ECB agree to new county schedule

Morgan believes these changes will benefit county cricket for many years to come

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed upon new changes to the county season starting in 2014.

From that year on, county championship matches will begin on Sunday’s and Twenty20 cricket will be a weekly feature, with most matches predominantly taking place on Friday evenings in order to boost ticket sales and attendance, while the 40 over edition of the game will be scrapped and replaced by the 50 over format.

In a desperate attempt to create as much free time between matches as possible, the ECB have announced that they will be cutting down the the Clydesdale Bank 50 to eight group matches per county.

In the new-look tournament, counties will be split either into two groups of nine, whereby invited teams such as Scotland, Netherlands and the Unicorns will not be able to participate, or they will be split into four groups of five, meaning that only the Netherlands and Unicorns will be included since Scotland have already stated that they no longer want to be a part of the fixtures after 2013.

Former ECB chairman David Morgan held a survey where over 25,000 passionate fans of county cricket voiced their opinions for changes they would like to see.

Morgan proposed that the Championship season should be shorter, but this was shot down after heavy opposition by players, coaches and supporters.

However, Morgan’s bid to space out the Twenty20 tournament over the season has been met with great support since rain usually abandons matches without a single ball being bowled.

A statement released by the ECB said: “The ECB Board noted the strong desire from counties and spectators to create an ‘appointment to view’ for T20 cricket spread over a longer period of the season. There was no compelling preference from spectators for 40-over cricket rather than 50-over cricket and therefore the format from 2014 will replicate the 50-over format played by the national team.”

Each county will be scheduled to play 14 Friends Life Twenty20 matches, usually on a Friday evening, but the ECB noted that counties such as Surrey may be allowed to host theirs on a Thursday since there are a lot of other sporting competitions on Fridays in London.

In an attempt to protect the importance of Championship cricket, the ECB have announced that all first-class counties have already decided not to play in the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) next year.

The ECB also stated that the 2013 county season would begin on April 9 and is likely to end sometime within the third week of September.

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