We’re never slow to throw mud in the direction of the ECB (confession time: it’s not actually mud), indeed they are one of our most frequent virtual punchbags. Generally, this is fairly justified, for example when they take an age trying to sort out the recent saga about a particular bunch of England cricketers. Or when they’re arsing around with insignificant aspects of the domestic season, rather than focusing on improvements that could actually help the game.
However we fear that our position must now change. No longer will we shout insults from our balcony whenever we see someone who looks vaguely like Giles Clarke. We’ve even poured the green ink down the sink.
Yesterday, the ECB announced that the domestic List A matches will be changed from 40 overs per innings to 50 overs. Hallelujah! Few, if any, other countries play 40 over cricket. Certainly there has never been a 40 over Limited Overs International. Yet for several seasons the ECB have persisted with this anomalous form of the game. Hopefully, the next step will be to ensure the regulations for the Clydesdale Bank 50 are as similar as practically possible to the regulations for One Day Internationals. Generally, the more county cricketers that are playing under the same conditions as international teams, and the more frequently that those conditions are used, should be a positive thing for English cricket.
Before we get carried away in our praise, we should note that these changes take effect from the 2014 season, rather than next year. Also, the structure of the tournament will mean there’s no room for Scotland, the Netherlands or the Unicorns. We’ve never been convinced about the value of Unicorns, but it is a shame that the two Associate nations have been deleted (mind you, it’s not the England, Wales, Scotland, the Netherlands and Unicorns Cricket Board). Perhaps the Board can’t stand Alex Salmond.
We hope the Board of the ECB do something silly soon (such as devising a T20 setup from 2014 onwards in which they’ve given Surrey the option to not play on Fridays – unlike the other counties apparently – due to the sheer variety of competing nightlife, which for some reason doesn’t affect neighbouring Middlesex and moreover assumes people will forgo gigs, the ballet, an art gallery, a scampi dinner or dogging for the pleasure of watching Gareth Batty and Jon Lewis so long as it’s not the weekend), then we can get back to our usual moaning. Complimenting them is a bit of a sickening feeling.