Copy supplied by ECB reporters-network on behalf of MCCA
Changes to the structure of Minor Counties including promotion and relegation in the three-day Championship and an increase in the number of matches in the 50 overs Minor Counties Trophy are being considered for the 2020 season.
Discussions between the Minor Counties Cricket Association and England and Wales Cricket Board have been taking place for more than a year about the future structure and funding of Minor Counties cricket.
The changes proposed by the Minor Counties Review Group and approved at a meeting at Edgbaston are designed to produce a balanced format and more competitive cricket which will be attractive to players and spectators.
The Review Group has proposed that the Eastern and Western Division structure of the Minor Counties Championship should be retained but that each region should be divided into First and Second Divisions.
Each division would comprise five counties with the winners of Division One East and Division One West contesting the Championship final. The fifth county in each regional First Division would be relegated and replaced by the winners of the respective Second Divisions.
Each of the 20 Minor Counties would play four three-day Championship matches in the normal season, a slight reduction from the current six matches per county.
But MCCA officials hope that the proposed changes would produce more competitive cricket by ensuring that each county plays the other sides in their division and by playing three-day matches towards the end of the season, increase the availability of players.
he slight reduction in the number of three-day matches would be counter-balanced by an increase in the number of matches in the Minor Counties Trophy by reverting to a group format with quarter-finals and semi-finals rather than a straight knockout tournament. Counties would be guaranteed at least two home 50 overs matches.
The Minor Counties T20, which was successfully re-introduced this year, would be retained with four groups of five – but with different ones to the Trophy – with the group winners progressing straight to Finals Day.
It is intended that the three Minor Counties competitions will be played in blocks throughout the season to enable players and coaches to focus on each of the different formats. The Trophy is likely to launch the season, followed by T20 cricket in the middle period with three-day cricket taking priority in the latter weeks.
Other planned changes to Minor Counties cricket include revised player eligibility qualifications to encourage the development of more homegrown players, strengthening links between Minor Counties and the 18 first-class counties and improving development pathways to ensure that the best young players can make a smooth transition into adult cricket.
The next stage in the decision-making process will take place in late November when the bid to fund the Minor Counties programme is presented to the ECB Board.
The MCCA Review Group was: Martin Darlow (ECB Board Director – Chairman), Paul Bedford (ECB - Workstream Leader), David Graveney (ECB), Nick Archer (Chairman MCCA), Phil Caley (Secretary MCCA), Iain Fletcher (Hertfordshire CCC), Mark Everett (Hertfordshire Cricket Board) and Russell Perry (Northumberland Cricket Board).
Updated 13:00 - 2 Jan 2019 by Dave Wright