Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 23rd April 2024

ECB launch major public survey on vexed county issues

By Charles Randall

14 August 2012

ECB Survey into future of county cricket

The ECB have commissioned a major public survey on the future of the county game through an independent research company called Populus, and they say the views of cricket followers will be considered for planning the 2014 season.  This is a rare chance for club players to have their say.

People interested in county cricket are being asked for opinions on the structure, schedule and promotion of this venerable oft-changing institution. The survey is being distributed through the databases of the 18 first class counties, the MCC and TwelthMan, the official fans community, but anyone can involve themselves by viewing a section of the official ECB website, www.ecb.co.uk/countycricketsurvey.

The ECB hope to attract hundreds of thousands of respondents by the end of the month, which would make this the most comprehensive survey undertaken by the authorities to date. The results will be considered by the ECB Board alongside findings from the Morgan Review and input in 2011 from the sport’s stakeholders, including commentators, officials, current and former players, counties, supporters and other sporting bodies.

David Collier, chief executive of the ECB, said: "ECB has taken significant steps to improve our county game and is committed to improving the match-day experience for county cricket’s loyal and valued supporters. Approximately 1.5 million fans attend county cricket every season, and we are intent on getting more people through the gates into our county grounds. Along with the Morgan Review, this piece of research is essential to our planning for the future of county cricket, and we are committed to listening to the opinions of fans."

Earlier this year the Professional Cricketers Association carried out research among county players to gain a "fresh perspective" on views and priorities in the domestic structure.

A key finding was that the LV= County Championship should remain the priority and that it must have full fixture symmetry and integrity. Protecting this integrity was regarded by the players as more important than creating space in the schedule to allow county teams to compete in the Champions League. They opposed the recommendation in the Morgan Review that the number of four-day matches be reduced.

The FL Twenty20 competition was seen as the second priority for the players, who retained the strong view that playing fixtures in a block was preferable from a cricketing aspect to switching to "appointment to view" spread over a season. This is a hotly debated topic among county administrators, especially as rain severely damaged this summer's competition at a cost of many thousands of pounds. Opinion seems to be split roughly in half.

The players wanted a high-quality T20 competition drawing on experience from other T20 events worldwide, balancing the requirement of short-term financial return for the counties with the need to establish a sustainable T20 income stream. "For that, we need a competition which has the potential to attract the best overseas players and maximises overseas broadcast interest," the PCA continued. "A significant increase in the prize money at stake is a critical element of that."

The PCA survey is an example of the tricky debate on several issues in county cricket. No wonder the ECB decision-makers are tugged this way and that. The new ECB survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and can be found at www.ecb.co.uk/countycricketsurvey until 28 August. The questions will be distributed to county websites.