Cricket: Vox Pop: As county cricket prepares for D-day, would two divisions make England stronger?

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LORD COWDREY

Former England captain

At first sight it seems a good idea, but there are problems. Leaving aside whether having fewer England- qualified footballers in the Premier League has helped Glenn Hoddle, the pressure on teams to win, especially in the second division, will lead to more bad pitches. Groundsmen are as good as ever, but they're not allowed to produce true pitches by their counties. Great players learn to play on good pitches - Bradman didn't see many bad ones. They'll also need a football-style transfer system, especially if Test cricketers find themselves in the lower division, but I don't know if the sport can cope with that.

SIR TIM RICE

Cricket enthusiast

It's probably worth a try only because we'll never know otherwise. I'm not convinced it's an automatic cure, though the players seem to want it. The top division will attract the better players but the matches in the lower division could become meaningless. It might also lead to fewer games. However, it's not true the same counties do well every season because form is actually quite volatile. The only guarantee of producing the strongest possible England team is to inject far more cash into the game so that good games players are as likely to pick cricket as football as their chosen sport.

RONNIE IRANI

Essex and England cricketer

Two divisions would benefit English cricket but a lot of other issues also need to be addressed, like pitches and whether we should return to three-day cricket. Two divisions would make the game more competitive towards the end of a season at the top and bottom of the table, but it won't change the face of English cricket overnight. Playing on a home-and-away basis might boost crowds - maybe teams should be split into zones like they are in America. On the basis of last season, Essex would start in the second division. We'd deserve to but teams can bounce back quickly in cricket.

PETER ANDERSON

Somerset chief executive

The object of having two divisions in any sport is to create pressure on the players to perform. They will want to be near the top not the bottom, so the penalty of not succeeding will hone people's attitudes. The problem with England at Test level is that they don't react well to pressure and that's because there's not much pressure in county cricket. Games should be played on a home-and-away basis each season for two reasons. First, because otherwise there wouldn't be enough action and grounds would lie idle and, secondly, so that teams have the chance to reverse earlier defeats.

MATTHEW FLEMING

Cricketers' representative

County cricket's role is to produce the strongest possible England team and a large part of me feels two divisions will do that. It would create time for training, recovery and preparation. Hopefully, the cricket will be more competitive and prepare people better for the Test cauldron. I feel the short-term priority is to sort out our pitches. They're not conducive to producing Test players and reward mediocrity. They've also eliminated the art of spin bowling and, indeed, of being able to play it. Most pitches have been relaid to the same specifications but what's right for Canterbury may not be right for Darlington.

DAVID MANASSEH

Cricketers' agent

As long as there's promotion and relegation, it would lead to more competitive county cricket which in turn should result in a better England team. In all sports, greater competition creates better players. At the moment, a lot of teams seem to give up when it becomes clear they're not going to win the Championship. Ideally, the matches shouldn't clash with Tests so that the sides can be at their strongest. I'd like to see every county have a second overseas player. That would bring more crowds in and still leave at least 300 England-qualified players in first-class cricket.

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