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Testing time for cricket review

A County Championship game between Essex and Somerset
It is argued a reduction of Championship games would be detrimental to English cricket

with BBC Wales cricket correspondent Edward Bevan
Analysis and comment with BBC Wales' midweek online column

Away from the current shake-up at Glamorgan, there is a wider topic being debated in the world of cricket after the England and Wales Cricket Board's recent announcement that the structure for the 2011 first class season would "be similar to this year."

But there would be changes for the following three years with a probable reduction in the number of County Championship games played.

Admittedly there was probably too much cricket played last summer.

But a plethora of one-day games, especially the Twenty20 format added an extra workload and travel on players.

Nottinghamshire flag
Nottinghamshire are the reigning County Championship games

Despite a recommendation from the cricket committee which wanted a reduction of six Twenty20 games, a campaign from certain counties - including Glamorgan - won the day.

However, to reduce the County Championship by two games from 16 to 14 is likely to bring objections from the players and supporters who still regard Championship cricket as the leading competition in the UK.

The winners receive £500,000, easily the biggest monetary prize of all, but there are other factors which the board and their various working parties are being asked to address.

For instance, questions are being asked about where future England Test players will hone their trade if they are not subjected to enough rigour in the county game - a competition that Justin Langer, the former Australia Test batsman, once called the best in the world.

There was a thrilling end to the 2010 season at Old Trafford in September when Nottinghamshire clinched the title on the last afternoon.

One of their players remarked he had played international cricket and had won other trophies "but winning the Championship was the greatest experience I have had in my cricket career".

However, there are some who maintain there should be more of a rest period between county games and more time for preparation for practice.

Veteran Glamorgan spinner Robert Croft counters that argument by saying: "There is enough time spent in the nets during the winter and at pre-season practice.

"There is nothing like honing your skills out in the middle - I can't play enough - it's a short season anyway."

The weather also plays its part especially in Wales and the west country.

Robert Croft celebrates taking a wicket
Croft is an elite club of taking 1,000 County Championship wickets

Glamorgan play at two possible 'out-grounds' at Swansea and Colwyn Bay and it there is also the danger that with a reduction in championship cricket there would be fewer opportunities to continue playing at these seaside grounds - despite the significant income they generate.

However, television companies and sponsors tend to support one-day cricket because of the money they invest and the excitement it provides.

But it became obvious last season that, apart from a handful of counties, there was a reduction in support for the Twenty20 game.

Whatever the arguments, the final decision will not be known until after the 2011 season has ended.

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see also
Maynard resigns in Glam shake-up
17 Nov 10 |  Glamorgan
County changes put off until 2012
21 Oct 10 |  Counties
County schedule for 2011 delayed
30 Sep 10 |  Counties
Counties could cut Twenty20 games
24 Sep 10 |  Counties
County pros in schedule backlash
20 May 10 |  Counties
Players 'do not enjoy' Twenty20
15 Jul 10 |  Glamorgan
Miller worried by 50-over demise
28 Aug 09 |  Counties

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