On the Front Foot: Bid to shake up county game is just the same old story

Grounds to Play was launched on Thursday. This is the new five-year plan for cricket, and it says the intention is to "give talented cricketers the opportunity to progress seamlessly through club and non-first-class representative county cricket to the first-class game". And to "establish a three-conference County Championship with an enhanced prize-money structure to increase competitiveness and intensity and raise interest levels". Honourable objectives, and what a game it will be when they are met. Oh, sorry, that is a mistake. Those key proposals are not from the latest strategic plan but from Raising the Standard, the blueprint from 14 years ago. This year's document is much different. It says it wants "to increase the pace of integration between first-class counties, minor counties, county boards to ensure a consistent pathway from youth to senior county level". And "we will ensure prize money in the LV County Championship reflects that it is the premier competition". So in 14 years things have pretty much stayed the same. What Grounds to Play does not add but is actually taking place is the consideration of a three-conference structure as a desperate attempt to "reduce the number of domestic first-class matches to create a better balance between match-play, recuperation and preparation". That last quotation is from Raising the Standard of 1996 as well. Much energy and many funds have been poured into making the game part of young lives. But attempts at reforming the county structure have been piecemeal and hotchpotch.

Internet matches hit early snag

Two understated developments merit support. There is a project to create a minimum of eight specialist indoor cricket centres across the country by 2013. If these are properly funded and sized, the game here will be transformed because it will be playable at all times. The other unsung but potentially important embellishment is the launch of a daily highlights video package of Championship matches. It could be a huge internet hit. Unfortunately the big day, the first of the new season on Friday, was greeted with this message: "We are experiencing technical issues with the video feed of highlights into our Flash video players on-site at present."

Play-off to decide best in Tests?

Official news is still awaited of what the International Cricket Council are doing to reinvigorate Test cricket. The new ECB strategic plan gives the latest hint. It says they will "champion a play-off match for the Test championship with the ICC". That will mean in effect a neutral Test match in England every two years to decide the world's best team. The jury is out and may be away for some time.

For England's Sake, be lucky

Good luck to David Saker, England's new fast-bowling coach. He has a hard act to follow after Troy Cooley and Ottis Gibson (and nowhere near as exotic a name). Saker has been successful with Victoria but according to Greg Shipperd, who hired him, Saker is "less of a technical coach and more of a tactical coach, with some pretty definite ideas and, at times, alternative ideas too. He provides an interesting balance to the norm that is taught around the place, but at the same time he has the ability to judge individuals on their particular need". Should be interesting on the technical front if front arms are dropping and front feet overstepping all over the place.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...