County Championship round-up: Players turn their back on Morgan Report


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The Independent Online

Proposals to restructure English domestic cricket around a shortened County Championship and an expanded Twenty20 competition have been rejected overwhelmingly in a survey of players conducted by the Professional Cricketers' Association.

The Morgan Report – conducted on behalf of the England and Wales Cricket Board by former chairman David Morgan – recommended a reduction in Championship matches from 16 to 14, a return to 50-over cricket and Twenty 20 group matches increased from 10 to 14 played on nights across the summer.

But after seeking the views of 277 players, the PCA wants the Twenty20 to remain a mid-season tournament, with the integrity of the 16-match two-divisional Championship protected as the season's primary event.

Of the players surveyed, 77 per cent wanted the T20 group stages to be played in a single block and 91 per cent regarded the Championship as the most important tournament, with 87 per cent putting Twenty20 second.

The PCA's report agrees that T20 "has a crucial role to play, both from a cricketing perspective, and for county finances" but said that the English game must establish "a high-quality competition which has the potential to attract the best overseas players and maximises broadcast interest".

It argues that there should be a significant increase in prize money not only to attract overseas talent but also to compensate England players whose availability to play in the IPL is currently limited. But the County Championship, it said, should "have full fixture symmetry and integrity".

On the field yesterday, Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara fell cheaply for Essex in Cardiff, the latter lbw without scoring to Glamorgan seamer Moises Henriques. South African Alviro Petersen did rather better, completing a century off 147 balls.

At Edgbaston, Jonathan Trott became another victim for in-form Graham Onions but Ian Bell compiled a welcome half-century after Keith Barker's five wickets helped skittle out Durham for 163.

Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow completed his second century of the season against Leicestershire at Scarborough. Back in Leeds, student Luis Reece, who has played second XI cricket for Lancashire, took 7 for 21 as a scratch Sussex side was bowled out for 58 by Leeds-Bradford MCCU.