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Old 17th January 2018, 10:42   #1
WeAreKent
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County championship to be split into three conferences?

ECB looking at a new plan - three conferences of six, ten group matches with no promotion or relegation but play-offs to determine the champions.

The groups to change every season, so all counties get to play each other over a three or four year period.

Kent and Sussex among those broadly in favour as it would reintroduce a level playing field in which all 18 counties begin the season on equal terms and the present gulf between Div One and Div Two clubs would theoretically be reduced.

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Old 17th January 2018, 10:52   #2
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I've been expecting the move to 3 x 6 for about fifteen years. This is effectively the Lord Tesco proposal that was rejected in the years leading up to the introduction of Two Divisions.

Because, we were told in no uncertain terms that promotion and relegation were absolutely vital to the well being of English domestic cricket. Now (after much has consequently been amended or lost from the fabric of the domestic game), that's apparently not the case at all.

What's that Billy Bragg lyric about the USSR?....

"The people who told us
That two and two is ten
Are now trying to tell us
That two and two is five"
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Old 17th January 2018, 11:01   #3
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Love that Billy Bragg song -

"You keep buying these things but you don't need them
But as long as you're comfortable it feels like freedom."


The ten matches plus play-offs also frees up another four days in the schedule for white ball cricket...
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Old 17th January 2018, 11:19   #4
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Originally Posted by WeAreKent View Post
Love that Billy Bragg song -

"You keep buying these things but you don't need them
But as long as you're comfortable it feels like freedom."


The ten matches plus play-offs also frees up another four days in the schedule for white ball cricket...
That's one of my favourite lyrics, which I find myself quoting regularly (especially last month, for example!).

Yes, I suspect the additional time freed up might be the leading incentive for this scheme. I think it has its good points - the 'level playing field' being one, but also some drawbacks outside of the obvious reduction of games. Fewer opportunities to support one's club at away games is one - imagine if Kent are drawn with Durham, Derbys, Glamorgan, Worcs & Hants. Another might be an increase in 'meaningless' end of season matches. Whilst the 1st v 1st v 1st play offs to determine the Champions will certainly engender plentiful excitement, how many players and supporters will care too much about 4th v 4th v 4th to determine who finishes 10th? Although I've always been lukewarm about Two Divisions, there's no doubt that it does produce - in Div One at least - copious drama in the final month of the season. I'm also wondering how drawn matches will work in the play-off scenario....maybe use those freed up four days to allow five-day play off games?
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Old 17th January 2018, 19:08   #5
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You can be sure of one thing. In 2 or 3 years they will change the format again.
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Old 18th January 2018, 10:04   #6
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You can be sure of one thing. In 2 or 3 years they will change the format again.

The merry-go-round of English cricketing philosophy. Twenty years ago, promotion and relegation were the magic words; now, apparently, they're poison.

Such turnabouts aren't new. When I first started watching the Championship, first innings were limited to 100 overs per side, in a bid to encourage more enterprising play. A decade or so later, it was concluded that English batsmen needed more time to patiently build innings, and so a fourth day was added to the games. At the start of last season, an edict went out from the ECB that Team England should seek to play entertaining cricket. Now, after the Ashes hammering, there is a general bemoaning that English batsmen are unable to turn attractive starts into enduring, match-defining innings.

It'll probably always be the case. It is a bizarre game, after all.
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Old 18th January 2018, 11:19   #7
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The merry-go-round of English cricketing philosophy. Twenty years ago, promotion and relegation were the magic words; now, apparently, they're poison.
To be fair, there is no set formula that remains the correct and optimum way to organise cricket for all time.

Twenty years ago, two divisions genuinely seemed like a good idea to make the game more competitive.

At the time there was not a huge gulf between TMGs and non-TMGs and nobody envisaged the likes of Derbys, Northants, Leics, Kent and Glos being stuck in div two forever without the talent to compete for promotion and losing all their best players to the Div One counties.

The three conferences with play-offs structure overcomes that and allows all 18 counties to start the season on the same level. My understanding is that it is being considered by the ECB in response to the concerns of those counties such as Kent etc who are stranded in the lower tier and are concerned about the loss of all their best players to the 'bigger' counties.

Funnily enough, two seasons ago Essex might have been in the same camp as Kent and the others - and look at them now...but I suspect they are the exception that proves the rule.

The world turns and everything changes. It is perfectly possible that promotion and relegation was the 'right' answer 20 years ago and that three conferences is the 'right' answer' under different circumstances in 2020.
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Old 18th January 2018, 12:05   #8
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I envisaged it. From the very start, I felt that the hidden agenda of Two Divisions was to encourage the creation of an elite set of clubs, based mainly around the TMGs, with the better players from the smaller clubs gravitating to the top. For years, I've been hearing moans about the growing gulf in class between the two divisions. Well, of course there's a gulf, that was the whole aim in the first place. There may even have been a hope that some smaller clubs might sink so far as to go out of business, thus creating the desired Championship of fewer teams. Thank goodness for Sussex, Somerset and now Essex spoiling the overall plan.
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Old 18th January 2018, 12:41   #9
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I envisaged it. From the very start, I felt that the hidden agenda of Two Divisions was to encourage the creation of an elite set of clubs, based mainly around the TMGs, with the better players from the smaller clubs gravitating to the top. For years, I've been hearing moans about the growing gulf in class between the two divisions. Well, of course there's a gulf, that was the whole aim in the first place. There may even have been a hope that some smaller clubs might sink so far as to go out of business, thus creating the desired Championship of fewer teams. Thank goodness for Sussex, Somerset and now Essex spoiling the overall plan.
That was very astute, So77, because I'm not sure I envisaged it at the time.

In the first year of the two tier set-up, Somerset, Kent, Leics, Northants, Glamorgan and Essex were all in the first division.

I'd say that the gulf started to grow and a group of 'elite' counties emerged only after the Ashes in 2005, following which Deloittes wrote that OTT report for the ECB promsing a new and golden commercial era for cricket with cash bonanzas everywhere.

On the strength of that, the TMGs - most of which were pretty delapidated and in a poor condition - were encouraged by the ECB to spend untold millions on building stadia fit for the 21st century. And from that stemmed the split we have today into the 'haves' and 'have-nots'.
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Old 18th January 2018, 13:07   #10
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That was very astute, So77, because I'm not sure I envisaged it at the time.

In the first year of the two tier set-up, Somerset, Kent, Leics, Northants, Glamorgan and Essex were all in the first division.

I'd say that the gulf started to grow and a group of 'elite' counties emerged only after the Ashes in 2005, following which Deloittes wrote that OTT report for the ECB promsing a new and golden commercial era for cricket with cash bonanzas everywhere.

On the strength of that, the TMGs - most of which were pretty delapidated and in a poor condition - were encouraged by the ECB to spend untold millions on building stadia fit for the 21st century. And from that stemmed the split we have today into the 'haves' and 'have-nots'.
It was pretty obvious that the intention was over time that the test hosting counties should end up in division 1 instead of counties like Leics and Northants.
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Old 18th January 2018, 13:31   #11
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Promotion and relegation serves every other sport in England. It seems to me that conferences will just make the strong weaker.
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Old 18th January 2018, 13:39   #12
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Does that mean that there will only be only be 12 cc games a season?
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Old 18th January 2018, 14:41   #13
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Does that mean that there will only be only be 12 cc games a season?
10 presumably.
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Old 18th January 2018, 14:55   #14
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Does that mean that there will only be only be 12 cc games a season?
10 group games, then play-offs for the top placed counties in the three conferences to decide the championship.
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Old 18th January 2018, 15:52   #15
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10 group games, then play-offs for the top placed counties in the three conferences to decide the championship.
From 16 games originally we would be down to 10.
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Old 18th January 2018, 16:11   #16
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From 16 games originally we would be down to 10.
The Public gets what the Public wants.....
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Old 18th January 2018, 16:37   #17
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The Public gets what the Public wants.....
True, attendances at T20 and List A are much higher than the Championship.
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Old 18th January 2018, 17:06   #18
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Yorkshire have put forward their own vraiation on the three conferences theme, with the club's CEO Mark Arthur explains like this:-




“Currently we’ve got one to 18 through the two divisions.

“One, two and three in the first division would go into Conference A, B and C

“Then, four into A, five into B and six into C and so on.

“You have your three conferences of six, you play five home and five away within that.

“Then you go into Conferences D, E and F (for the final five games of the season).

“The first and second teams in A, B and C would go into D.

“You take your points forward with you and for the last five matches of the season. The three teams who were first play three home games and the teams who were second play two.

“You take all your points forward and you get your eventual champions and one through to 18.

“We’ve advocated a large sum of money for the eventual winners to give it real traction(1 million). And like the Premier League in football, money goes to 15th.

“Even in Conference F, when you’ve got teams who finish fifth in A, B and C, they are playing for something meaningful.

“If you finish 16th, 17th or 18th, you don’t deserve anything.

“You would play 15 games.

“The first lot of five come in the early part of the season, then the next lot of five finishes by the middle of August. Then you have five slots from then until the end of September to finish it off.

“There will be a real finale to the end of the season."
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Old 18th January 2018, 17:28   #19
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That was very astute, So77, because I'm not sure I envisaged it at the time.
I wasn't alone. Before the counties rubber stamped Two Divisions, some of the smaller clubs won the concession that three teams would be relegated and promoted each year, to reduce the likelihood of sides being anchored in Div Two. They sussed what might be coming. This was later reduced to two up, two down after the 2005 season, which fits in neatly with the timings you detail.
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Old 18th January 2018, 18:06   #20
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Originally Posted by WeAreKent View Post
To be fair, there is no set formula that remains the correct and optimum way to organise cricket for all time.

Twenty years ago, two divisions genuinely seemed like a good idea to make the game more competitive.

At the time there was not a huge gulf between TMGs and non-TMGs and nobody envisaged the likes of Derbys, Northants, Leics, Kent and Glos being stuck in div two forever without the talent to compete for promotion and losing all their best players to the Div One counties.

The three conferences with play-offs structure overcomes that and allows all 18 counties to start the season on the same level. My understanding is that it is being considered by the ECB in response to the concerns of those counties such as Kent etc who are stranded in the lower tier and are concerned about the loss of all their best players to the 'bigger' counties.

Funnily enough, two seasons ago Essex might have been in the same camp as Kent and the others - and look at them now...but I suspect they are the exception that proves the rule.

The world turns and everything changes. It is perfectly possible that promotion and relegation was the 'right' answer 20 years ago and that three conferences is the 'right' answer' under different circumstances in 2020.
I can see both sides of this argument. Your explanation makes very good sense. And i can see the pros of all 18 teams beginning the season with a chance of glory and hopefully being able to stop players going to larger counties. Durham losing so many players would be the obvious example.

A one-off final also makes for a good focal point.

But i also get the points about the drama of promotion and relegation.
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