Coun­ties could go part-time, warns Graves

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Ex­clu­sive By Nick Hoult CHIEF CRICKET COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Colin Graves, out­go­ing chair­man of the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board, has warned that some coun­ties will have to go part-time to preserve their long-term fu­tures.

Graves, who leaves his role at the ECB at the end of the month, told The Daily Tele­graph that the Covid-19 cri­sis of­fered English cricket a once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­nity to re­struc­ture the do­mes­tic game. He has be­come the first se­nior ECB fig­ure to state pub­licly that he thinks the tra­di­tional struc­ture of English cricket needs to be shaken up.

The coun­ties were told last month that the game faces los­ing a min­i­mum of £106mil­lion this year due to the pan­demic. The Hun­dred com­pe­ti­tion has been postponed by 12 months and huge costs have been in­curred to pro­vide biose­cure en­vi­ron­ments for in­ter­na­tional cricket to be played be­hind closed doors.

Graves, who spent 13 years as York­shire chair­man be­fore tak­ing over at the ECB from Giles Clarke in 2015, be­lieves 18 full-time coun­ties play­ing all three for­mats pro­fes­sion­ally will strug­gle to sur­vive in the post-Covid world. In­stead, he sug­gests that coun­ties can re­main

fully pro­fes­sional in white-ball for­mats, but can be re­duced to 12 play­ing first-class cricket pro­fes­sion­ally.

“This is just my opin­ion, but I would like them to look at that – it would be bet­ter for ev­ery­body in the game,” he said. “Bet­ter for play­ers and coun­ties. They could con­cen­trate on what they are good at.

“It is an op­por­tune time to re­struc­ture the county game: the way it is run, the way the com­pe­ti­tions are run. I think the stake­hold­ers need a frank and hon­est dis­cus­sion about it, this is an op­por­tu­nity to look at re­struc­tur­ing the game.

“On my last con­fer­ence call with the county chair­men, that is one of the things I said to them. Be pre­pared to sit down and dis­cuss the fu­ture for the good of the game and not just you in­di­vid­u­ally.

“I think they [18 coun­ties] can sur­vive and there is a role for them. In white-ball cricket that is easy.

They can play 50-over, 20-over cricket and com­pete. But I just don’t see the point when look­ing at the bot­tom end of our red-ball game, where it is pro­duc­ing noth­ing. Yes, the coun­ties can sur­vive, but I think it might be in a dif­fer­ent role or po­si­tion to now.”

Graves will be re­placed by Ian Wat­more, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, on Sept 1. Wat­more is cer­tain to or­der a wide-rang­ing re­view into the fi­nan­cial struc­ture of English cricket.

There is now un­cer­tainty over whether the Hun­dred will go ahead, es­pe­cially if crowds are un­able to at­tend matches next sum­mer.

“If it doesn’t go ahead I would be very dis­ap­pointed and the ECB will have missed a mas­sive op­por­tu­nity,” Graves said. “I think The Hun­dred is one of the keys to the long-term fu­ture of the ECB. Not only as an as­set, it will also bring the new au­di­ence we want.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.