PCA survey urges fewer domestic games to raise standards

Yorkshire players
Yorkshire won the 2014 County Championship title

Domestic cricketers want to reduce the amount of cricket they play in order to improve the standard, according to a study released by the players' union.

In the survey of 240 Professional Cricketers' Association members, a respondent said the "schedule is ridiculous" while another claimed it was "actually unsafe".

Another unnamed respondent to the survey said they "felt like a zombie" at times, "either waking up to play or waking up and being in the car travelling".

The England and Wales Cricket Board are currently reviewing the domestic game.

Currently, each of the 18 counties is scheduled to play 16 four-day games, eight 50-over matches and 14 Twenty20 games - not taking into account later rounds of knockout competitions.

That amounts to almost 90 days of cricket between April and September (163 days).

The key findings from the study are:

  • 98.3% of players believe Test cricket remains the pinnacle of the sport
  • The County Championship should remain the premier domestic competition, and the format should only be changed to incorporate a "significantly better overall schedule"
  • The Twenty20 competition should revert to being played in a block
  • The 50-over competition is seen as less important and of lower quality

New ECB chief executive Tom Harrison told BBC Test Match Special last week the review will consider reducing the first-class season from 16 to 14 matches.

50-over domestic cricket is 'lower quality'

Durham
Durham are the current holders of the One-Day Cup - domestic cricket's 50-over competition

The PCA survey concludes that current 50-over domestic competition - the One-Day Cup - is seen as less important and of lower quality than the other domestic competitions.

In a statement the PCA added that "the cricketing arguments for retaining the competition in its current form are correspondingly weak".

'T20 should be played in a block'

Mark Wallace
Glamorgan's Mark Wallace was elected chairman of the Professional Cricketers' Association in 2013

ECB chief executive Harrison recently stated that it would be "desirable" to have county cricket's domestic Twenty20 competition played in a block period.

The PCA agreed and in a statement said it would "significantly improve the quality of the product" if England players and other international stars feature more regularly.

The T20 Blast is currently played from May through to July with matches frequently played on Friday evenings and scheduled around first-class matches.

County Championship still most important

The PCA state that 85.2% of those who replied to the survey value the County Championship as the most important of the three domestic competitions.

And 92.5% strongly agree/agree the current first-class competition is good preparation for players who aspire to play for England.

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