T20: English counties vote for new eight-team competition

Northamptonshire won the 2016 NatWest T20 Blast competition

English cricket is poised to get a new eight-team Twenty20 competition.

The tournament, which will take place in addition to the existing 18-team T20 Blast, could start as early as 2018 if it is given the go-ahead.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is keen to introduce a new T20 event to rival the Indian Premier League and Australia's Big Bash League.

If it wins approval, the new tournament will be held at city-based Test grounds.

The eight-team proposal, one of five on the table, was passed by a majority vote at Lord's on Wednesday.

It followed discussions between representatives of the 18 first-class counties, the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) and the MCC, which is the guardian of the laws and spirit of cricket.

Surrey, Kent and Sussex were reportedly against the move.external-link

The counties will now take the proposal to their memberships before the decisive vote by the ECB board in October.

The PCA also plans to hold further talks with players.

ECB chairman Colin Graves, the former executive chairman of Yorkshire, said: "We've all been looking at how we can use domestic T20 for an even bigger purpose, especially getting more young people to play.

"The next steps for us all, as a game, will be to extend the discussions and get valuable input from players, members and other key voices across the game."

What are the details?

The ECB statement did not go into the specifics, but Essex chairman John Faragher revealed some of the working details:

  • The teams will contain some overseas players, with other players selected from the counties;
  • Matches will be played at Test grounds but will remain under the control of the ECB;
  • It will be a two-to-three week tournament, allowing players to be released by their counties to essentially sign with the ECB for that period;
  • Counties that do not host any games will receive somewhere in the region of £1.3m;
  • The new T20 will not be a franchised competition.

"There is work to be done," added Faragher. "They are looking at 2018, possibly 2019, but that is not cast in stone yet.

"It could be 2020 because we have got to get it right."

Strong support - but not unanimous

Perth Scorchers
Perth Scorchers are the most successful team in Australia's Big Bash League, with two titles since the competition was revamped in 2011

Surrey chief executive Richard Gould said he would have preferred an option that would have allowed all counties to have "remained on the table".

Somerset chairman Andy Nash also said much more work remained before the new competition was rubber-stamped.

And Essex chairman Faragher claimed it was "not strictly correct" to say his country had agreed to the proposal.

"What I said was, when they came around for the vote, that I'm happy for the discussions to go forward subject to certain caveats," he told BBC Essex.

"One of those is that I can't fully agree to this until I have seen all the details. I need to know exactly what I'm signing up to.

"In principle, I will go along with it, but there has to be further consultation."

The view from the press box

Cricket journalists on Twitter:

Ex-England seamer Mike Selvey:external-link "Absolutely the right thing. All counties will be equal stakeholders, with share in all, inc hospitality, merchandising etc. What to do with two hundred plus cricketers not involved will be an issue. Also, international cricket has to be suspended so Eng players can play."

BBC Test Match Special commentator Simon Hughes:external-link "So the county chairmen have seen the future and voted for it 16-3... eureka.

The Sun's cricket correspondent John Etheridge:external-link "Show of hands (16-3) = big interest in city-based T20. Now for more details - names, colours, overseas limit, England players, money, TV etc."

Ex-England all-rounder Derek Pringle:external-link "Counties & MCC vote 16-3 in favour of franchise-based T20 comp. Surprisingly, £1.5 million inducement offered to each by ECB not mentioned."

Former Lancashire batsman Alec Swann:external-link "I'm interested in how counties market the T20 Blast when the city tournament is going. 'We've lost our best, now (please) watch the rest'.


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