My personal view is that it does need a certain amount of restructuring. I think at the moment there are not as many meaningful matches as there might be. By July, if a county is in the middle of the table, all that is left to play for is pride, prize money and contracts. Personally I would want to create two conferences of equal status culminating in quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final play-off. It would put players under the sort of pressure they are likely to experience at the highest level.
We need to make the county game more competitive. Either by two divisions or two conferences. If it is the former you would pick your Test side from Division One. There would probably be three-up, three-down to maintain a competitive edge for longer, which would create a massive transfer system and more problems. So a conference is probably the answer. And a return to uncovered wickets might also help - players would then have to plan their innings and adapt more.
Reform is definitely needed. The problem is that no one wants to say there are too many counties. We need two divisions in the knowledge that eventually a Super League of perhaps 10 counties would evolve. The creation of a free transfer system would also lead to the better players gravitating to the richer clubs. Then coaches would be given full powers to hire and fire players. Professionalism among the players would become a necessity, with no security of tenure, i.e. no comfort zone.
I don't see why splitting the Championship would necessarily improve standards and my fear would be that in five years the top six counties would form a Premiership breakaway. I can see some point in regional competition, taking players out of their normal environment. But to reduce the number of counties, as seems inevitable with a two divisional structure, reduces the number of players available for England. The opposite should happen: you have to widen the base, not narrow the pinnacle.
Former England player
I have never seen any need to change the Championship. It might be sensible to reorganise the season to provide some quality rest and practice time. But I would like to see other changes, starting with central contracting of players for Test series at home (touring contracts should remain the same). But I think the England contracts should be kept relatively low, while match fees should be higher. County staffs should be kept at 22, there is then opportunity for local players and triallists in the Second XI.
Whether the national team is doing well or not is immaterial. The Championship should be made to create more interest for the players that participate in it day after day. Already, because next season there are going to be two divisions in one-day cricket, there is more of an edge to matches. Teams around the middle of the Sunday League table are still trying really hard, at this stage of the season, to win so that they can finish in the top half.
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