England Test skipper Ben Stokes and county side Kent are reportedly not in favour of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) proposals to reduce the number of County Championship matches by up to four per county.
According to a report in mirror.co.uk, the ECB has completed a “high performance review” under former captain Andrew Strauss and published the final report with 17 recommendations. Of the 17 recommendations, one says that the County Championship should be a three-division competition, with a six-team top division and two secondary conferences where the winners face each other for one promotion spot each year.
Under the proposed format, the 18 counties will also play fewer matches, with each side “set to play four less T20 Blast matches and up to four less Championship games”, the reports said.
Stokes is reportedly not happy with the reduction in the number of Championship matches as responding to a report in The Cricketer magazine, which highlighted the overwhelming opposition to the reduction in the number of county matches, he tweeted, “Ab so bloody lutley” along with two clapping hands emojis.
Meanwhile, county side Kent, reportedly hit back at the at ECB’s proposal, saying, “We will not be rendered irrelevant.”
Kent chair Simon Philip was quoted as saying, “The Strauss Review is a wide-ranging and comprehensive document. However, it should be remembered that it has been prepared through the prism of High Performance only. The two key areas for our Club — domestic structure and scheduling — remain within the discretion of the 18 First Class Counties. Within this group, we will now consider issues such as the needs of all our Members, supporters, players and stakeholders, the financial impact, the unintended consequences and the possibly irrevocable change to the essential nature of County Cricket.
“Kent Cricket is a fundamental part of our community, committed to supporting the growth of the Men’s and Women’s game at all levels. We continue to deliver success on the field, produce players for England and support one of the largest recreational and schools cricket populations in the country. We will not allow our Club to be rendered irrelevant,” Philip was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the proposals have also reportedly not gone down well with Middlesex.
“We strenuously wish to underline our position on being opposed to any reduction in the volume of first-class cricket played across the season and most importantly the County Championship, and we firmly stand behind our belief that this should remain at 14 games over the season,” said a statement from the county side.