First steps taken as Graves outlines vision for future of English cricket

New ECB chairman Colin Graves. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
New ECB chairman Colin Graves. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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Radical suggestions to press for the shortening of Test matches and one-day internationals will come under consideration by the England and Wales Cricket Board this year.

The governing body confirmed yesterday the existence of a document, quoted by website Cricinfo as containing plans for a streamlined county championship and the inauguration of a Premier League-style Twenty20 competition – possibly by reducing the number of home Test matches each summer.

The ‘Strategy Conversation Summary’ also reportedly records interest at the ECB in pushing for four-day rather than five-day Tests and – by the time the next World Cup is held in this country in 2019 – one-day internationals lasting only 40 instead of 50 overs per side.

It is understood the document is part of a raft of literature being drafted and exhaustive consultation to be undertaken in preparation for a review into the structure of English cricket, overseen by new ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.

The timetable of change appears to dictate publication of the review by early next year, and the beginning of implementation soon afterwards if appropriate.

It marks a turn of events which ties in with a new guard of administration at the ECB, with former Yorkshire executive chairman Colin Graves set to begin a five-year tenure.

Graves has already spoken of his hope that an ‘English Premier League’ can be properly accommodated in the domestic summer – an intention which has found immediate favour with former Test captains Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan.

“When you look at cricket overall, I think it’s got some challenges ahead,” said Graves.

“The attendances at Test matches are going down; Twenty20 hasn’t been as successful as we thought it would have been; the 50-over competition is certainly not drawing in the crowds.

“I think we need to look at the way the county championship is structured, and how much cricket we play. We need to decongest the whole season –and we’ve got to look at an English Premier League somewhere – how we can fit that in.”

Graves, such a success in the role he must now leave at Yorkshire, has long had a vision for English cricket.

He said: “At the end of five years, if people turn round and say ‘Colin Graves has changed English cricket for the good, and it’s more entertaining, better to watch ...’, and everybody’s happier with the game, then I’ll be highly delighted.”