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STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF SUSSEX CRICKET

16-Sep-2015

Sussex Welcomes ECB Decision on Domestic Structure for 2016

Summary

The Board of Sussex County Cricket Club welcomes the ECB’s decision to not make any substantive changes to the domestic schedule in 2016. Sussex had considered the evolving situation and had recommended that the ECB adopt a cautious approach to changing the current domestic schedule.

We think that the ECB needs to clarify its Vision and adopt a new Strategy for England & Wales Cricket before seeking changes in the structure. In particular, the merit of any change need to be fully understood and agreed by all stakeholders. Additionally, we considered that it would not be prudent to make changes to the schedule until a full financial analysis and impact study is concluded.

We believe that all the ECB domestic tournaments should involve all first class counties. Therefore we are concerned that any proposed reduction to eight teams in the first division of the county championship in 2017 may be a step towards a plan for eight city based t20 teams in later years which we do not support.

ECB Strategy

We appreciate that, whilst in England we have a first rate red ball product at test and county level, the decline of global test audiences is a challenge. We are pleased that domestic t20 audiences increased significantly in 2015. However we realise that England has been consistently poor at white ball cricket internationally. In that context we support the ECB view that the staging of the Cricket World Cup in 2019 in England is a once in a generation opportunity to inspire the nation about cricket.

Looking at the financial landscape, we appreciate that some 80% of the game’s income comes from media rights, almost wholly from international matches. We are also aware that several First Class Counties are faced with considerable financial challenges. We need to balance the need of the games various stakeholders, including our followers, as well as commercial and media partners.

Domestic Structure

There is a significant body of professional cricket opinion, shared by Team England, coaches and players, who consider that we play too much cricket in the English summer. There is felt to be too little time to practice skills and the constant switch between red ball and white ball cricket (particularly in the same week) is believed to be detrimental to performance. There are also concerns regarding player welfare. Additionally the quality of pitches is a major concern.

Sussex CCC

Our strategy of “Inspiring a Passion for Cricket- in the Heart of the Community” is broadly aligned with current ECB thinking. We are proud of the progress we are making in numerous areas.

Our membership has given a clear indication that they would wish to retain 16 county championship matches. The Sussex Board appreciates the value of this and also the worth in the t20 matches in broadening cricket appeal to a wider supporter base and providing vital finance. The 50 over competition is currently unloved but felt to be vital by Team England for our international success. We would like to explore the opportunity of playing part of a domestic 50 over tournament overseas before the start of the normal season. This could free up time and help develop skills.

Way Forward


The decision to defer major changes taking effect in 2016 will give the ECB Executive and Team England time to champion the perceived merits of any change to our domestic structure. In addition it will allow financial modelling and other impact studies to be worked through in respect of any proposed changes in future years.

Any proposals for the 2017 season should be in line an updated ECB strategy and should be agreed by the First Class Counties by 30 March 2016 so that teams enter competitions in 2016 fully aware of the consequences.

It is unfortunate, if understandable, that this issue has raised plenty of emotion, particularly amongst the traditional support base, due to an information vacuum. This is especially the case as the main driver for change is to improve the standard of professional cricket in England & Wales. In particular the aim is to increase skill levels and intensity of matches, as well as being mindful of player welfare.

We are confident that county cricket is very resilient and there is plenty to celebrate in English cricket at county and international level. At Sussex we will continue to work in a spirit of partnership with the ECB and other counties to try to come up with the best solution for all parties.

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