Measuring the quality of the English County Cricket system


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  1. #1
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    Measuring the quality of the English County Cricket system

    You would think that the world's so called best or so called second best domestic structure should have a lot of results to show for it self

    But England are bullies at home but kittens abroad where they have routinely

    Tasted defeat in New Zealand

    Tastes brutal defeats in Australia

    Tasted defeats in India

    Tasted defeat against Pakistan in the UAE and West Indies in West Indies

    England has only won one ODI WC in 2019 that also in controversial circumstances and a T20 WC.

    England's shocking ineptitude with the bat in Australia is very damming for its so called elite county cricket
    Last edited by James; 7th May 2022 at 18:56.

  2. #2
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    It used to have good quality but I think it is overhyped currently.

    Not the same quality as before.


    Bangladeshi Guy

  3. #3
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    You can judge the detrimental impact of the county structure by observing Duane Olivier's bowling since his return to international cricket.

    County cricket is no longer fit for purpose, and it's the ECB's own neglect and incompetence which has led to this day.

  4. #4
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    Who has called it the best domestic structure? I mean Imran Khan played in it for years, and despite this still advocated a six-team domestic structure in Pakistan because he recognised the challenges with spreading talent across too many teams.

    Even in England there are numerous critics of its quality, number of pitches, the time it is played and the players it is producing. I don't think I have ever heard of any recent player or pundit praise its quality.

    Historically it was of a much better standard due to the intensity of the cricket played, the relatively reduced number of tests that were played and its ability to attract high profile overseas players.

    It suited the subcontinent players of the past as it took them away out of their cotton-wooled environment and gave them a sense of independence coupled with more first-class games than they would play at home. Similarly, it suited Aussie players as it allowed them keep on playing cricket during the Australian winter.

    Since the late 90's it has been in a state of terminal decline and I don't think the ECB has the appetite to facilitate its recovery.
    Last edited by DeadlyVenom; 16th January 2022 at 19:58.

  5. #5
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    The Australian domestic structure even though its faced a decline because of focusing too much on the big Bash and ODI cricket has a lot to boast about ie

    Winning 5 ODI WCs

    Winning a T20 WC

    Being the number one test side for a number of years

    Beating Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, England, West Indies, NZ in their backyards

    Routinely being in the top 3 in all formats for a while

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadlyVenom View Post
    Who has called it the best domestic structure?
    +1

    It surely has its place for some players, but I have not seen the hype for the county.


    "If this happens I will swim across the Charles River! In winter!" -- OZGOD on NZ batting 6 sessions

  7. #7
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    It used to be 2 top overseas professionals with all of the English national players playing too.

    Nowadays it's full of journeymen cricketers, 1 overseas professional in most teams and many of the national players pick and choose when they play.

    What do the ECB expect!



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    Incredible the lack of test batsman coming from England.
    They have just one batsman, Root.

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    They are good in ODI and T20 but I feel their batsman are really not acclimatised to play Test cricket . None of the players are stayers. You can see the quality of Burns and Haseeb . Also Eng winning the ODI WC would have made them complacent and programmed them to be the best in ODI and T20 only

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    English fan opinions I'm reading online are lambasting County Cricket for the most part.

    County Cricket in its heyday had a greater variety of surfaces, making extensive use of outgrounds like Colchester and Sedbergh, and attracted the top overseas pros.

    Today it fails to prepare youngsters for the variety of conditions in Test cricket. By and large we see slow seaming pitches where Dukes ball bullies run riot, batsmen don't learn the art of batting for long periods and spinners are reduced to afterthoughts.

    Rob Key mentioned the Australian contingent have a WhatsApp group titled "Stevo's Gonna Get You" - referring to 45 year old uncle Darren Stevens who's STILL one of the leading wicket-takers with his 70mph dobbers ! Even the leading Ashes runscorers like Head and Labuschange struggle to buy a run.

    Basically, it sounds like pre-2019 Pakistani FC cricket.

  11. #11
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    its the ecb's fault, they sidelined the comp becuase they wanted to make money with t20. you cant have majority of county season at start of summer and expect to get good results. the conditions arent conducive to it, div 2 is more like old qae nowadays with lots of low scoring games, and guys like darren stevens still playing as an all rounder.

    the fact that his highest fc score and best bowling are both after his 40s says everything about the system. if england really want to improve they needs to demote at least 5 or 6 counties to minor county status. whilst writing this i just realised ive written exactly what @Markhor wrote, lol, no plagirism mate.

    but serioously, eng have good basis for a fc comp, good school system and development path ways, the only problem is the season is relegated to the tougher part of the season to bat, and theres too many teams.

    ipl destroyed appeal of playing county as top players easily earn more than the counties could ever afford to pay em, and brexit and the death of kolpak is the final nail in the coffin or attracting overseas talent. the fact that guys like zafar gohar, who struggles in qae can play as a first choice overseas player is pretty damning for english county cricket.

  12. #12
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    Does anyone hype it?

    I never have personally. I have long considered it to be a pretty average standard.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    Does anyone hype it?

    I never have personally. I have long considered it to be a pretty average standard.
    How can you explain the lack of test match batsman produce by England?
    Forget the 45-50 averaging test batsman, there isn't hardly 35 averaging batsmen in England now.
    Is there any hope to see 2/3 test cricket batsman in the near futur so England can compete again in test cricket?

  14. #14
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    It's full of ageing journeymen cricketers and a lot of the players coming through are simply not intl test quality burns , hameeds etc .

    Standards have dropped, pitches plus English weather makes your dibble dobby seamer like your abbas, masters , Stevens , murtagh lethal .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Savak View Post
    But England are bullies at home but kittens abroad where they have routinely
    England are bullies at home? Since when?

    County cricket is great for anybody who is not English - including South African players getting into the English team, or sub-continental players who use it as a finishing ground to transform from "good" to "elite".

    For English players, not so much.


    Have some Sehwag in your life.

  16. #16
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    They need to increase it to three foreign players to improve the quality of teams.

  17. #17
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    It used to be hyped up and to an extent rightly so in terms of the infrastructure and overall quality learning it used to provide to young English as well as younger overseas players with the quality of overseas players (Top players of the world have played country cricket at one point or another) that played in it.

    Currently the hype has started to fade away with a lot of mediocrity in the 18 team county championship without the top overseas. Even their own international players have rarely played a county match in last 5 years or so.

    As mentioned in another thread, its high time that either some counties are merged together to make it a 6-8 teams competition so that best can play the best with top coaches guiding them or another red ball tournament with 6 teams having the top county players along with some overseas players is introduced (With some quality overseas players it can be a big success amongst the test fans as well, kind of like franchise red ball cricket and they can be the pioneers as they already have a system where overseas players come to play).

  18. #18
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    Joe Root claimed any success English cricketers have on the international stage is "in spite of county cricket, not because of it" as he demanded chances to the way the system works.

    The England skipper was speaking in the aftermath of his team's drubbing in the latest Ashes series Down Under.

    Australia were by far the superior side over the course of the tour as they secured a 4-0 victory, denied a whitewash only by rain delays which helped the tourists force a draw in Sydney.

    While there are a number of factors behind England's poor performances over the past six weeks, the current country cricket structure has been mentioned by several pundits as something which needs work.

    And now the England captain has joined those calls for changes to the domestic game.

    "What incentives in county cricket right now are there to open the batting?" Root asked. "What incentives are there to be a spinner? And what incentives are there to bowl fast?

    "There don't seem to be many, whether you look at the first-innings average scores of 250 or whatever they are, how short the games last.

    "I'm not going to make excuses for a performance like that, because that’s not good enough for Test cricket. It doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are.

    "Even on that surface, which did help the seamers, we’re a better team than that and we’ve got to give a better account of ourselves.

    "But what I will say is, anyone that’s coming into this Test team at the minute is doing it in spite of county cricket, not because of county cricket

    "There are definitely things that need to change. You look at some of the young batters – when have they had the opportunity to go out with 450, 500 on the board and deal with scoreboard pressure?

    "You don’t practice it in county cricket. The only time they’re exposed to it is in this environment.

    "When have they had to go out to save a game against a turning ball in spinning conditions?

    "They’ve never been exposed to it. And yet we’re expected to go to the subcontinent and win games against the best spinners in the world."

    Not content with just identifying the problems, Root was happy to offer some potential solutions which he believes might have a positive impact on the international side's fortunes in the future.

    "We need to produce better wickets," he began. "How are we going to do that? Hopefully by playing at a better time of the year. By flattening the seam on the ball. Maybe giving our seamers the opportunity to bowl with a Kookaburra ball.

    "We could double the batting bonus points, too. There are a number of things that I think we can do quite quickly to give our guys a better opportunity to ready themselves for this environment.

    "And obviously it will nullify running in and bowling at 70mph. It will encourage guys to try and create new angles, be either more consistent or find a different way of taking wickets, and it will give spinners an opportunity to bowl in the first half of the season."

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/crick...anges-25963591


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savak View Post
    You would think that the world's so called best or so called second best domestic structure should have a lot of results to show for it self
    I don’t know anyone who calls it so.

    The problem is the anachronistic structure. Eighteen Counties have to agree to change for it to occur. Each has vested interests. ECB is not very powerful.

  20. #20
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    So what are the rankings of domestic cricket systems.

    India must have the best followed by NZ maybe then SA, Pak, Aus then maybe England or Sri Lanka.

  21. #21
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    I think County was IPL of domestic cricket back in the day with plenty of top international stars featuring in them during off season. You had likes of Viv, Sachin, Lara etc.

    Also County paid well, I don't suppose many other domestic cricket pay the kind of salary county do (even India before late 90s).

    So the quality of talent + pay kinda made county the place to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly View Post
    So what are the rankings of domestic cricket systems.

    India must have the best followed by NZ maybe then SA, Pak, Aus then maybe England or Sri Lanka.
    How do you even rank them? I don't think you can solely credit domestic system for test success.
    Last edited by Cricfan4eva; 28th January 2022 at 18:17.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cricfan4eva View Post
    I think County was IPL of domestic cricket back in the day with plenty of top international stars featuring in them during off season. You had likes of Viv, Sachin, Lara etc.
    Also Kapil, Hadlee, Imran, Wasim, Donald, Pollock, and most of the West Indians in their great period

    The pay was bad, but it was a great way to get experience on a lot of different types of wicket (they were more varied then, mainly slow seamers now).

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    Travis Head is to be replaced by Cheteshwar Pujara as overseas batter for the County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup competition.

    Following a request by Travis to be released from his contract due to increased international commitments along with the news that he and his partner are expecting their first child, the club have agreed to this and replaced him with Cheteshwar Pujara for the majority of the 2022 season. Pujara will arrive in time for the first Championship match of the season and remain until at least the end of the RL50 competition.

    On announcing that he had signed for the club Cheteshwar said, “I am excited and honoured to be a part of the historic Sussex County Cricket Club for the upcoming season. I do look forward to joining up with the Sussex family soon and be a part of its rich cricketing history. Over the years I have always enjoyed my time in the UK playing county cricket, so eagerly looking forward to the new stint and hope to contribute to the club’s success.”

    We are delighted to welcome such an experienced international top order batter to the squad and look forward to his contribution both with the bat and in helping our younger top order batters continue their development in first class cricket.

    We are sorry Travis will not be joining us and wish him all the best with his international commitments and congratulate him and his partner Jessica on their news.

    Explaining his decision, Travis said, “I would like to stress that it’s important for me to support Jessica over the Australian winter while balancing a busy international schedule. It comes with disappointment during a very exciting period for me personally that I won’t be returning this season, I’ve built some great relationships and was very excited for it. I’m hopeful I can still have an impact at the club in the future and I will be watching the season very closely. I wish everyone all the best and thank you for the support.”

    A new Championship Captain will be announced in due course, prior to the start of the season.

    Following the re-arrangement of the Pakistan v West Indies one day series for early June we expect to have Mohammad Rizwan for the early part of the Championship season and at least eight of the Blast group games. He will arrive from the current Pakistan v Australia test series in time for the second round of the Championship staring on 14th April. To ensure we have the strongest squad available for the remaining Blast matches and Championship matches during this period we have signed Australian batter/keeper Josh Philippe.

    The Sydney Sixers star said on signing for Sussex, “I am delighted to be joining Sussex for the T20 Blast and the County Championship. The opportunity to play in England with a young and talented Sussex squad is something I am really looking forward to.”

    We also have the world’s number one T20 bowler Rashid Khan returning for another T20 Blast season at Hove. Subject to how far his IPL franchise team go in this year’s tournament we expect to have Rashid available for much of the Blast including the knockout out stages at the end of the competition, should we progress from the group stages.

    Keith Greenfield, Performance Director said, “Considering the constantly changing schedules of overseas players and tours, the quality of international players we have secured to represent the club across all formats is very exciting for all involved.”

  25. #25
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    Mark Robinson: Warwickshire coach says he would 'jump' at chance of England job

    Warwickshire's title-winning first-team coach Mark Robinson says he would "jump" at the chance to become England men's head coach.

    The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are in the process of recruiting new coaching staff and a permanent managing director.

    Robinson says he would be "stupid to say no" if he was offered the role.

    He guided the Bears to the 2021 County Championship title, four years after he led England women to World Cup victory.

    The 55-year-old former Yorkshire seamer toured with England Lions as a player but never made his full international debut.

    "Anybody would love to play for their country," Robinson told the BBC. "But I think if you cannot play for your country and you have an opportunity to coach your country, you would be stupid to say no.

    "You would love the opportunity and I would be no different in that.

    "At the moment I have a great job at Warwickshire and I'm enjoying that as well, but I would say if there is an opportunity to do it [coach England] I would jump for it."

    As well as the World Cup victory in 2017, Robinson also led the women's team to a place in the T20 World Cup final the following year, before being sacked in 2019.

    He also has two titles with Sussex on his CV from his first spell coaching on the county circuit, before changing Warwickshire's fortunes from relegation survivors, in the previous season, to title winners within eight months of his appointment.

    Robinson's declaration of interest follows the opening of applications to become the new managing director on Monday.

    Interim managing director Sir Andrew Strauss told the BBC that his permanent successor would ultimately have the final say on the head coach.

    "There is a slight ticking clock in terms of the start of the international summer at the beginning of June and we want to get that person [the new managing director] in position," said Strauss.

    "It will be their decision around the coach and/or coaches as well, which hopefully will also be in position by the start of the summer, but there is a bit of time pressure for us to make that happen.

    "It's going to be his [the new managing director's] team and so he has to look at how he wants to structure the England high performance department. Whether he goes down the single coach or two coach model.

    "He has to have the people that he feels can work with him and has a similar philosophy."

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/60756885

  26. #26
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    Hasn't anyone signed up Babar

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  30. #30
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    The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has granted permission to seven players to travel to England and participate in the 2022 county season.

    Sources have revealed that all seven players including marquee players Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Rizwan will travel to England based on their respective team schedules.

    Shaheen Shah Afridi will be representing Middlesex whereas Mohammad Rizwan will wear Sussex's colors.

    The other five players include Azhar Ali who has been signed up by Worcestershire. Gloucestershire has secured the services of youngster Naseem Shah and Zafar Gohar.

    Experienced campaigner Mohammad Abbas will look to give Hampshire an edge while Hasan Ali will be looking to regain form while representing Lancashire.

    The players have been granted No Objection Certificates (NOCs) based on their guarantee to return to Pakistan and report for international duty.

    Pakistan will face West Indies in a three-match ODI series, which has been re-scheduled for June in Rawalpindi. Following that, Men in Green will travel to Sri Lanka the following month for two-Tests and three ODIs.

    The national team is scheduled to tour the Netherlands at the end of July, followed by the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka from July 27.

    The 2022 County Championship is scheduled to be the 122nd cricket County Championship season in England and Wales. The season is scheduled to run from 7 April to 29 September 2022.

    https://cricketpakistan.com.pk/en/ne...england-county


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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savak View Post
    You would think that the world's so called best or so called second best domestic structure should have a lot of results to show for it self

    But England are bullies at home but kittens abroad where they have routinely

    Tasted defeat in New Zealand

    Tastes brutal defeats in Australia

    Tasted defeats in India

    Tasted defeat against Pakistan in the UAE and West Indies in West Indies

    England has only won one ODI WC in 2019 that also in controversial circumstances and a T20 WC.

    England's shocking ineptitude with the bat in Australia is very damming for its so called elite county cricket
    England are ranked higher then Pakistan in each format and are the reignining world champions - they have been a phenomenal LOI side to say the least, things are not that great on a Test level but they have the system and infranstrucure to come back. There’s a good reason why Pak players relish the chance to play over here to improve their game further and take advantage of facilities / coaches which are mode then adequate.

  32. #32
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    The current English cricket team wouldn’t do any justice to it. The performance has been poor.

    The World Cup hype got to a lot of their players.


    'If you cant support us when we lose or draw then dont support us when we win"
    Bill Shankly

  33. #33
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    Yet players from round the world will come and play in the County Championship and T20 comps.


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  34. #34
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    That’s because of these reasons
    1. A lot of teams given the population, allows them to accommodate foreign players
    2. The only cricket playing country in the northern hemisphere summer and thus the only chance to earn money in that period. Aus and NZ have winter and it’s too hot in Asia.

    The quality of cricket is now 3rd best. Defo Aus is the best, and then arguably SA. If over the next few years, india keeps investing in Ranji as they have been doing, india might also come up.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    Yet players from round the world will come and play in the County Championship and T20 comps.
    Likely the only reason many are playing is because they are IPL rejects. Or people who have no shot at IPL. Couple of examples that I can think of right away are Labuschagne and Pujara.

    Marnus put his hand up at the IPL auction but got zero takers. So he headed to England. Had he been bid on, he would be playing IPL not County.

    Pujara was rejected long ago from the IPL and kicked out of his number 3 slot.

    I am sure players like Afridi will also be playing IPL and not County if they were eligible.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    Does anyone hype it?

    I never have personally. I have long considered it to be a pretty average standard.
    As above.

    Many top quality England players who ultimately failed to adjust to the physical and mental demands of Test cricket, such as Hick, Ramprakash, Knight, Key, and Ballance, always had very strong records for their counties.

    Hick and Ramps, who amassed an incredible 250 first class hundreds between them at >50 per innings a piece, were a pair of truly legendary batsmen in county cricket. But their Test averages?- barely 30.

    This demonstrates the gulf in class between the two levels.

  37. #37
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    Pakistani players can create a real niche for themselves in the County Championship during this April-May window. Since there is no international cricket going on because of the IPL why not use this time to get some much needed first-class cricket exposure? Because if we are being honest alot of our players need more FC exposure/experience.

    As for the standard of County cricket, I can't recall anyone hyping it or rating it after the 70s-80s-90s when it was like the IPL of FC cricket and almost all the big names were playing.
    Last edited by RedwoodOriginal; 29th April 2022 at 01:09.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedwoodOriginal View Post
    Pakistani players can create a real niche for themselves in the County Championship during this April-May window. Since there is no international cricket going on because of the IPL why not use this time to get some much needed first-class cricket exposure? Because if we are being honest alot of our players need more FC exposure/experience.

    As for the standard of County cricket, I can't recall anyone hyping it or rating it after the 70s-80s-90s when it was like the IPL of FC cricket and almost all the big names were playing.
    You are right in saying that Pak. cricketers have an advantage since they don't play IPL. But what are they going to do with this first class exposure? Pakistan barely play 6 tests in a year. Going forward I only see that decreasing.

    The PCB are not fans of test cricket. They along with probably WI are the biggest culprits in cancelling scheduled tests for T20's. So all this first class experience is of little use.

    What they do need is T20 experience. The PCB is all about T20I's and PSL. Nothing else.

  39. #39
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    After seeing what the county cricket system did to Duanne Oliver, Then it's quite clear that the County system is overhyped plus you can see why England is doing so bad in test cricket.


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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by U$ofA View Post
    You are right in saying that Pak. cricketers have an advantage since they don't play IPL. But what are they going to do with this first class exposure? Pakistan barely play 6 tests in a year. Going forward I only see that decreasing.

    The PCB are not fans of test cricket. They along with probably WI are the biggest culprits in cancelling scheduled tests for T20's. So all this first class experience is of little use.

    What they do need is T20 experience. The PCB is all about T20I's and PSL. Nothing else.
    Pakistan has played 3 test matches this year. And by the end of it will play 7 more. The series with Australia was originally scheduled to be a 2 match test series but it was the PCB who made it a 3 match series.

    Rather than talking based on one isolated example you came across (for which the WI Cricket was to blame in the first place) I urge you educate yourself before making statements that are very obviously not true. PCB is committed to developing test cricket. The previous CEO Wasim Khan made it a mission statement of sorts. Unlike, India and the other Big 3 boards Pakistan actually plays tests with countries like Zimbabwe and doesn't cancel on tours to Bangladesh, just because they are weak oppositions or don't offer bigger revenue-making chances.

    We also don't have a 3 month long PSL, all while taking a significant chunk of the international calendar hostage.

    PCB do schedule alot of T20s and give attention to developing the PSL but that's primarily because for a not so rich board like the PCB these avenues represent major revenue streams. But there's nothing that suggests that PCB doesn't care about test cricket as you seem to insinuate.

  41. #41
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  42. #42
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    Dizzy slaps down KP.

  43. #43
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    So for all the criticism of quality - we have Pujara picked up for the 5th Test squad!


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  44. #44
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    A good day today for the domestic system. Random English County XI just beat the full strength New Zealand Test side by 7 wickets. LOL

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post

    KPs entire argument is that county cricket was good when he was an up and coming player but the standard dropped when he back as a seasoned international pro...

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    Dizzy slaps down KP.
    Going off on a tangent to the point KP was making is not slapping him down. KP loves to run his mouth and therefore he is not a hard fellow to slap down so Gillespie doing a spot of first class/T20 false dichotomy nonsense is all the more laughable.

  47. #47
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    CC shouldn’t be franchised, handed to big biz. It is owned by the members, it’s nineteen mutual societies.

    But it should be radically modified.

    Reduce the number of CCCs to twelve, or better still, nine. Middlesex and Surrey form “London” for example. Warwickshire, Northants and Worcestershire form “Heart of England”. And so on. That will drive up competition for places.

    Reverse the modern homogeneity of slow, low seaming County pitches where the groundsnen are terrified of a fine for making a “substandard” track. Bring back the Bunsens, the Green Mambas, the fliers of old. If four day matches conclude in two, so be it. Batters’ defensive techniques will improve.

    Scrap the Hundred.

    Play four day matches throughout the season.

  48. #48
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    England v New Zealand: Ben Stokes says approach 'sends message' to county players

    England's new attacking approach has "sent a message" to players in county cricket who want to get into the Test team, says captain Ben Stokes.

    England romped to a target of 296 in the third Test at Headingley to wrap up a seven-wicket win and complete a 3-0 series win over New Zealand.

    They also chased 277 at Lord's and 299 in thrilling fashion at Trent Bridge.

    Stokes said a player's method "will be on the selectors' minds" when picking future squads.

    "These last three games should have sent a message to anyone who wants to play Test cricket for England in the next two or three years at least," he said.

    "It is the manner in which you play, whether that be bat or ball. It wasn't going to be about stats; it is the manner in which you play.

    "We want to build on this. It's not just about us at the moment but the future as well."

    In full: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/61956936

  49. #49
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    England won this test series becouse New Zealand didn't have a spinner.

  50. #50
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    The pitches are in favour of batsmen this season.The curators need to prepare pitches which are good for batting but have some pace and bounce.The duke balls are also an issue.The balls are losing shape and go soft very quickly.

  51. #51
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    One more Pakistan player now signed up - Imam for Somerset.


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  52. #52
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  53. #53
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    The Hundred didn’t ‘produce’ Will Smeed – the traditional, county-led system did
    by Mike Atherton


    Not long after the conclusion of the inaugural staging of the Hundred, the comms department of the ECB arranged a press conference via Zoom to reflect on its successful launch. The tournament’s managing director was on hand with the figures and when asked about the competition’s other benefits he talked of women’s cricket, naturally, which had been the biggest success, as well as the opportunity afforded for young men’s cricketers. Like “Will . . .”. Eventually, after an awkward pause, Smeed’s surname came to him.

    Smeed, the 20-year-old Somerset batsman, was the breakout men’s star of last year’s competition, despite not having been picked up in the initial draft, and he made its first century on Wednesday evening for the Birmingham Phoenix side he represents. He has already been picked for the England Lions this summer, despite having yet to make his first-class debut or indeed without having played a List A game for his county.

    Muscle-packed and dynamic, he is a six-hitter who has enjoyed some eye-catching success in the short-form cricket he has played — the T20 Blast, Pakistan Super League and now the Hundred.

    Occasionally, you hear notes that jar: that Smeed, somehow, has been “produced” by the new competition, or that he was an unknown beforehand and has suddenly emerged from thin air, fully formed. Yet, there is an important distinction to be drawn: the Hundred, like the PSL and the Blast, has given him a platform, but he is a product of the game’s traditional systems, through county age-group matches, a county academy and ECB-funded pathways.

    One of the advantages of having a son who plays (my lad, Josh, is at Middlesex) is that you get to see a whole cohort of young players at first hand, and it has been a source of joy to watch many of the boys that he grew up playing against going on to make their way in the professional game. I first saw Smeed, for example, at the Bunbury Festival — the tournament for the best under-15 regional players — in the summer of 2017.

    I looked up that match yesterday — South West Under-15 v London and East Under-15 — in July of that year. From it, I counted at least a dozen players who have gone on to represent their counties in the professional game. Among that number, for example, was Tom Prest, who has captained England’s Young Lions and who made 181 for Hampshire in the Royal London Cup last week. He looks a player of real promise.

    Smeed was already on English cricket’s radar by then, having being nurtured by Somerset, who have an enviable reputation for making the most of the talent around their county and beyond their immediate boundaries. Two years before the Bunbury Festival, for example, he was playing for Somerset Under-14 against Cornwall at Hayle, a match that included Lewis Goldsworthy, Sam Young and Kasey Aldridge, all of whom went on to represent Somerset’s first team.

    After the Bunbury Festival, I kept tabs on Smeed’s progress. Later that year, he was playing in the ECB’s flagship under-17 regional competition at Loughborough, known as the Super 4s, the point from which those in charge of the ECB’s senior development programme really start to take notice. Smeed was playing well in advance of his age group by then, a measure of his promise, and he played in the Super 4s for three consecutive years. His runscoring didn’t stand out, but you could see the destructive potential there.

    The point of all this is not to lay out some kind of potted career history or dismiss the platform that the Hundred has given Smeed, rather to remind those who may have tuned in on Wednesday evening that there has been an awful lot of help and investment along the way to get a young player to that point. Parents, teachers, friends, coaches, groundsmen and volunteers, giving time and energy and using precious resources, to develop young players and give them a chance to become the best they can be and achieve their dreams.

    All over the country, these systems are in place: from formal county age groups and academies to the less formal networks that I outlined in a piece with Leicestershire’s head of development, Jigar Naik, earlier in the season. Funded and mature — and no doubt in need of improvement in areas such as cost and accessibility — these systems have produced good young players for English cricket for decades.

    As the debates intensify around franchise cricket and private investment in the game, and how it all knits together with more traditional structures, it would be wise to remember that one cannot exist without the other. All over the cricketing world, franchises are reaping the benefits of the investment of others. In this instance, Birmingham Phoenix are enjoying the fruits of Somerset’s labour.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b...10172492976c4d


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  54. #54
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    ECB in the name of the invention might come up with 1 over cricket. Now bowler will bowl 5 balls or 10 balls. Why are they changing fundamental aspects of the game. T20 is 120 balls. 100 is 100 balls Not sure what they gain by reducing 20 balls.

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