Time for regional franchises...

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Time for regional franchises...

Post by Hoggy_Bear on Tue 10 Mar 2015, 7:03 pm

,,,at least for T/20 and 50 over competitions?

Perhaps something along the line of:

The North: Lancs, Yorks, Durham
East Midlands: Notts, Derby, Leics
Midlands: Warks, Worcs, Northants
West: Somerset, Glous, Glamorgan
South: Sussex, Kent, Hants
London: Surrey, Midds, Essex

Add in, perhaps, a minor counties team, or an Irish, Scottish or even Dutch side (or all of them)
Higher level of competition. Bigger audiences (probably). Fewer games.
Only trouble might be fitting it in. You'd have to cut back on county t/20s and List A matches to accomodate it, but you couldn't get rid of them altogether, cause you'd need a basis for selection for the region. But I'm sure any problems could be overcome. Worth a go?

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by Stella on Tue 10 Mar 2015, 7:19 pm

Should see a more competitive league, similar to what other countries already do. Like you say, fitting it in could be the main problem, as you can't discard the counties.
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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by Gooseberry on Tue 10 Mar 2015, 8:17 pm

If you are doing it for limited overs why not the 4 day game?
How on earth are counties supposed to fund and employ a full playing staff, coaching staff ground and infrastructure without the direct income from the limited overs? Even if its split 3 ways it wont stack up, and youll have a large number of semi professional players making up the numbers....plus the same issues with lack of quality, intensity and interest for the paying public.

The county system needs to die, we simply cant sustain 18 of them with decent playing staff. Many promising cricketers leave the game because they cant earn a decent living from it, and some of the best young talent from overseas cant be employed here to develop into future England test players in the way it used to because of the rules currently encourage signing existing internationals who can never qualify.

Stella I have to ask, why cant you discard the counties...or at let them be run down to the level of the current "minor counties". The existing big boys who are financially stable and who have international grounds should for the basis of the new franchises of course, but what exactly is continuing to fund Leicestershire for example achieving for anyone? Its painful now two years without winning a game in a competition where results are often cooked up by ridiculous declarations is beyond absurd. Even being subsidised by the first division and ECB dole they are still losing money.

The two division system isn't working for the 4 day game and test cricket let alone limited overs nonsense. Its reached such a point that disenfranchising small sections

Back of a fag packet solution:
10-12 super clubs, all in the same 20 50 and 4 day competitions. ECB control the tv cash and pay out by academy graduates taken on full contracts, players in the England squads or performance programme. Limit them to 2 NEQ and 1 potential future qualifiable foriegn on the books at any one time, with an additional specialist short term signing for T20s. Clubs breaking these limits get a smaller distribution of central revenue.
The ECB should also fund a competitive under 21's only cup. That could be played at some of the smaller regional grounds to help keep them alive.

We do have to start recognising that a big player pool means nothing if your top players arent much better than the bottom ones....if we want England to be truely competitive in ANY format of the game. This isnt being acheived by what we have at the minute, even with performance programs and central contracts. The quality and intensity of cricket being played just isnt there, nor do players have the steely edge and competitive mindset required to step up in the face of real competition.

the only thing stopping it from happening is the way the ECB is constituted and the power held by the counties as a block.

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by VTR on Wed 11 Mar 2015, 7:33 am

The thing is, when Central Contracts were bought in England improved a lot, and it was thought that taking players out of County Cricket was a big part of that. Don't forget we reached number one in Tests, ODIs and won the World T20 under that system.

Maybe the game has moved on, or we are just in a down cycle where a lot of good players simply aren't coming through at the same time.

I do agree though that counties such as Leics add very little to the game currently, though you don't have to go to far back and they were a very good T20 side and brought Stuart Broad through...

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by gboycottnut1 on Wed 11 Mar 2015, 1:28 pm

VTR wrote:The thing is, when Central Contracts were bought in England improved a lot, and it was thought that taking players out of County Cricket was a big part of that. Don't forget we reached number one in Tests, ODIs and won the World T20 under that system.

Maybe the game has moved on, or we are just in a down cycle where a lot of good players simply aren't coming through at the same time.

I do agree though that counties such as Leics add very little to the game currently, though you don't have to go to far back and they were a very good T20 side and brought Stuart Broad through...

Aside from Stuart Broad, Leics also brought through other players who went on and played for England at a test match level. Jonathan Agnew is the best example of Leics having the ability to produce some outstanding and very fine young cricketers!

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by Gooseberry on Wed 11 Mar 2015, 3:03 pm

VTR wrote:The thing is, when Central Contracts were bought in England improved a lot, and it was thought that taking players out of County Cricket was a big part of that. Don't forget we reached number one in Tests, ODIs and won the World T20 under that system.

Maybe the game has moved on, or we are just in a down cycle where a lot of good players simply aren't coming through at the same time.

I do agree though that counties such as Leics add very little to the game currently, though you don't have to go to far back and they were a very good T20 side and brought Stuart Broad through...

The game globally has moved on, and the county game has continued to decline as a whole. The smaller counties are increasingly reliant on the t20 cup staying as it is and other ECB handouts just to keep solvent. The finances at Leicestershire have declined in line with their prowess on the field, and it is longer than you think since they were regularly competing for silverware. Broad had to move back to Notts to further his england ambitions,and could easily have been picked up by Northants or Notts who are no further from his school than Leicestershire are. They struggle now to employ local kids on a living wage and provide them a decent level of coaching and competition that will push them up.
Im only using them as one example but overall the standard of county cricket is slipping, especially in division 2.
Central contracts and the increasing pressures of international workloads are part of this, the best players play even less than they used to. Its harder to get top class overseas stars to make up the numbers as they prefer the bigger pay days on the T20 circuit when not playing their countries 200 yearly ODIs, and when they do come more often than not its just for the T20 money spinners.
The ECB has invested a fair bit in grassroots and things like chance to shine, which is all well and good. But having thousands of kids and adults playing dsoesnt matter a jot if you dont have an elite getting pushed and coached and facing regular high intensity competition. This was the switch we made in thinking about the Olympic sports and funding, it has negative consequences for those left out but produces the best from the best.
Central contracts are only a half hearted attempt sat this, and seemingly more driven by a desire to stop players taking up IPL contracts than really creating a core elite squad to pick a national side from.

The current two division 18 county system is bloated and failing, its not financing itself and its not producing good enough cricketers with the mental strength to consistently compete with the big guns in world cricket. England have the resources and interest in the game to produce a top 4 side in any format. Things have reached a nadir similar to that of England dropping below Zimbabwe in the test rankings back in the 90s. That prompted a shuffle of the decks chairs and some improvements, but its not gone far enough.

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by Mike Selig on Wed 11 Mar 2015, 3:28 pm

I think it may be a point worth making that whilst undoubtedly central contracts had a great effect on England's fortunes, they have certainly damaged the overall standard of the county game, along with the ever expansion of the international calendar and more recently the setting up of T20 leagues clashing with the England season - both have as has been pointed out restricted the presence of top overseas players.

I'm not sure the Olympic model is either desirable (the elite aspect of the sport doesn't have to be the be-all-and-end-all IMO) or particularly reproducible for cricket. The Olympic model is all about taking fairly niche sports which are heavily technologically based (track cycling and sailing being prime examples). For a mass participation sport (where investment has to be more evenly spread in terms of talent ID if nothing else) where technology plays less of a part like cricket? Not so sure that's that reproducible.

Not that that means the county system is perfect, far from it.

Trying to change it though, well that's going to be really tough, because of all the vested interests you're going to have to upset to make it possible.

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by guildfordbat on Thu 12 Mar 2015, 12:10 pm

With particular reference to Gooseberry's posts, similar themes were raised and discussed at a recent Surrey members' forum.

Alec Stewart was very much on Gooseberry's side of the fence, considering that an 18 county system was not financially sustainable. As part of a solution, he favoured doing away with half a dozen counties from the first class game. He emphasised - and I'm not sure if this strengthens or weakens his argument - that he had been of this view for around twenty years. Stewart added that it was with some regret that he had fallen out with (or at least, upset) Christopher Martin-Jenkins when first discussing this issue two decades ago.

Interestingly perhaps, a current player, Dave Balcombe, was more keen to ''try and maintain the traditions of the game'' as he put it. Given Balcombe's non-stellar playing career, some cynics might suggest that maintaining things as they are rather suits Balcombe. All I would say there - and I was certainly towards the front of the queue when cynicism was given out - is that Balcombe came across as very genuine and sincere.

How we go forward and what changes are made is beyond me - and probably quite a few others as well. Given when Stewie first spoke about the matter, we probably shouldn't expect anything too much too soon!

Unfortunately, I find it much easier to pick faults than provide remedies. With regard to Hoggy's franchise system, a couple of doubts already:

1. Will these combined teams maximise the development of good young players or will it just leave them on the sidelines as seasoned professionals are chosen for each starting XI?

2. I'm unsure how many will turn up to watch these games. They seem more geared towards a Sky showing than spectators turning up at the ground. Some may see nothing wrong with that although I don't like it. As regards spectators at cricket matches, you don't get the rabid animosity towards opponents as sometimes in certain other sports. However, there are often still very traditional county allegiances. I can think of one or two Middlesex supporters(not posters on this forum), for example, who would be reluctant to cheer on a ''Surrey Mexican'' even if he was playing in an All London side. I suspect similar issues by tring to mix White and Red Roses.

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by Gooseberry on Thu 12 Mar 2015, 3:47 pm

Point 1 .... Well at the minute youve got Leicestershire trying to sign a certain "retired" international instead of investing in youth in the current set up, and part of the franchising/funding split agreement could involve incentives for youth, EQPs and bonuses for players who get picked for internationals or performance squads.

2. Regional supercounties is a bad idea. Not just for the reason you point out, but also becauyse you could end up with 2 or 3 test grounds covered by one club. Thats bonkers. Franchises should exist in ALL formats, not just T20 and be dished out based on finances (including stability of long term business plan), infrastructure and support.
Essentially just less counties, and rebranded and relaunched to change their way of operating and the politics.

It wont happen any time soon though no mattter how many people think its a good idea.
I do have some sympathy with the t"traditions" argument but its really a choice of whether you want the game to be truely competitive and producing world class talent as its primary objective or the fulfill the same role village green cricket does.

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by JDizzle on Fri 13 Mar 2015, 7:38 pm

I think it's important to remember that three (?) years ago, we were number one in all three formats of cricket. Whilst we never quite fully convinced that we were deserving of that status in ODI cricket, we were certainly the best team in the world at Test and T20 cricket at various points. To suggest the system is completely broken is wrong to me.

There are definitely some things that can be improved upon in the County Game though. The schedule for one. I actually liked the idea this year to have the ODI games in a block in August, when the weather should be best, and it won't be seaming everywhere and the batsmen can play their shots. I think anyone who saw Notts smash Middlesex everywhere at Lords with Hales getting 130 and Taylor getting 100 off 50, or Sam Billings cane Somerset amongst others, would be lying if they said that English players can't play the modern way, but mixed thinking and planning consistently dogs us at International level.

I think Worcs are a perfect example of how to run a smaller county. They are consistently fighting for promotion in Div 2 to get into Div 1, showing you can compete with the bigger counties on a smaller budget by using English players and clever and value for money overseas pros.

But, most importantly, and I think should be a rule for life in general, is the Jack Shantry Rule. Would the County game be poorer without him playing every week for Worcs? Yes, yes it would. No to Franchises. Wink

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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by Good Golly I'm Olly on Fri 13 Mar 2015, 9:17 pm

I agree with JDizzle, weren't long ago we were on top - system doesn't need to change the coaching does
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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by sportform on Fri 13 Mar 2015, 10:27 pm

My opinion is that it would be a complete waste of time. It would be like sticking a cherry on a turd and calling it dessert. This fallacy that an English 'Big Bash' would suddenly make England world beaters in misguided nonsense. Knee-jerk reactions get you nowhere. Hasn't the ECB learnt anything from the FA after all of England's football World Cup failures. Copying other countries doesn't work.

We have a fantastic country set-up in this country. All it needs is a proper structure, possibly less games and to make cricket more accessible. Get T20 games and test match on free tv, get kids/ grassroots cricket participation increasing. I really fail to see what a English franchise league would do in the long run. We should be looking more towards MLB & MILB than the IPL. There is no quickfire.

I proposed a revamped T20 County Championship to the ECB last year but they weren't interested. My suggest was to split the counties into three divisions of six teams (perhaps North, Central and South or do a draw), each team plays 22 games, divisional rivals home and away and the others once. League starts in mid-June, about three games a week on Thursday, Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays with at east one game a week on free tv. Top eight teams go into the playoffs where they play best of five series (like MLB) through August. Grand Final Series takes places around August Bank Holiday.

The trouble is sports associations just want to paper over the cracks and that's all a franchise league would do.


Last edited by sportform on Fri 13 Mar 2015, 11:19 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Re: Time for regional franchises...

Post by sportform on Fri 13 Mar 2015, 10:41 pm

The key to success is the same in all sports. Invest in youth, grassroots, schools, university cricket, get better coaches at all levels, get more people playing, watching by making cricket more accessible, get test matches, t20 county games on free tv (could still be on Sky. They've had free weekends before.)

If you can get more people playing, better coaching, England will improve. There is no quick-fix.

A franchise system won't change a thing. You can even strip the county teams down to just a first team squad like american sports. Use universities and minor counties to develop youth. We don't need to lose over 100 years of history for no reason.

I have been saying for years that T20 cricket has been under-estimated in this country. Just found this from a thread in 2011:-

Re: 50 overs comp to replace CB40??
Post by sportform on Sat Nov 26, 2011 4:14 pm
I agree with Graeme Swann. Let's scrap the 50 over/ 40 over game.

There is far too much cricket and like it or not T20 is the future.

I don't know who does these 'reviews' not doubt it is old men in grey suits.

If I were to suggest something, I would look at a domestic T20 league along the lines of the MLB in the US.
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Re: Time for regional franchises...

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