Thoughts on Changes to Minor Counties’ Cricket Effective from 2020
We are living in an increasingly
urbanised and interconnected
world with change occurring at an
accelerating rate. Competition for
our attention at a time of increasing
choice is intensifying with shifting
consumer expectations in an
“on-demand” economy. Business
is exploiting new consumer
perspectives in the media rights landscape, and traditional terrestrial TV
is having to adapt to multi-channel commercial competition driven by
technological innovation. English cricket at professional and recreational
level has already been much affected by the above trends and will only
survive and prosper if it responds appropriately to the challenges it faces.
In 2017 the ECB produced Cricket Unleashed, concluding that the game
needed greater emphasis on inspiring fans, involving more play and
producing inspired teams. In Minor Counties’ cricket the response involves
trying to generate wider interest in the game trying to raise its profile, and by
providing new and exciting competitive programmes in one-day and threeday
cricket. It is also proposed to link Minor Counties competitively with the
best university cricket teams and to re-establish closer contacts between
minor counties and the First-Class game.
Cricket Unleashed 2.0 has refined the overall strategy and built on existing
initiatives, focusing on County Partnership Agreements as a means of
bringing different groups together, and providing the funding to help deliver
the ECB’s objectives for recreational cricket.
Major changes will be in place within Minor Counties cricket in 2020, and
the pejorative word “Minor” will be dropped from the name of a new
organisation to be called, “The “National Counties Cricket Association” with
its teams playing in “The National County Cricket Championship.“ However,
a well-developed branding exercise is necessary, including the greater use
of social media, to ensure that the newly named National Counties achieve
the sort of profile and public identity that is now most important to achieve.
From the playing point of view. the new Championship will involve
promotion and relegation in each of the Eastern and Western divisions.
At the end of the 2019 season in each Division, the top five teams will
comprise a first division, and the bottom five will make up a second division
of the new Championship that come into effect in the 2020 season.
Thereafter, promotion and relegation will occur in a competition cut back
from six to four matches per season. Although the loss of two matches
is regretted, one=day cricket will be enhanced and selection for only four
instead of six three-day matches may become easier. The winners of the
Eastern and Western first divisions will compete for the Championship for
the first time in September 2020.
The six days released from Championship games in 2020 will be used for
additional one day cricket and each T-20 and 50 over a side KO Trophy
competition will involve regional round-robin matches before the knock-out
stages. Subsequently, four top university teams may also participate, one in
each of four regions, with every side playing five regional matches before
the KO phase.
Every effort will be made to ensure that fixtures for National Counties’
matches will be dovetailed with FCC’s 2nd X1 competition games so that it
will be easier for players to be available for the respective competitions at
NC and 2nd X1 levels
At present, each Minor County X1 must select nine players whose average
is 26 or under, the other two may be over-age. In 2020, for each National
County, the average age of players must be reduced to 25 or under with the
option of having three over-age players. Additionally, all eight young players
must be one or more of the following: - county born, county educated, a
product of the county age group system, playing in the county league.
Minimum operating standards will be established in such areas as ground,
pitches, facilities, and collaboration with County Cricket Boards (CCBs).