Ian Herbert: ECB should be projecting and protecting four-day game

The ECB must consider paying out a subsidy to secure press agency coverage

It didn’t take long for the decision of the Press Association, the national news agency, not to staff county cricket matches to have consequences as a new season began on Sunday.

As The Guardian’s Andy Bull observed yesterday morning, the agency’s report on the first day’s play between Sussex and Middlesex at Hove included no reference to the fact that wicketkeeper Matt Prior had dropped off Steve Finn – a pretty significant moment, considering the period of disintegration that Finn is seeking to put in the past – and the desperation with which Prior seeks runs in his efforts to regain his England place.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is trying to do its part in breathing life into the county game, with four-day Championship matches now generally starting on Sundays and the new NatWest T20 Blast being played mainly on Friday evenings. But as the county game risks being drowned by the brash, self-important, infinitely less interesting T20 form salvation is needed for the real soul of cricket. The ECB must consider paying out a subsidy to the Press Association to help preserve the four-day game’s profile or find a sponsor who will do so instead.

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