After Lisa Sthalekar raised the possibility of bringing multi-day cricket back to the Australian domestic calendar, there has been some chat on social media about whether we could do the same in England, via the new Centres of Excellence which are hopefully set to take off later this summer… the “C” word permitting!
Unfortunately, it’s probably not realistic for the CoEs to play multi-day cricket – for the foreseeable future they will continue to be dependent on semi-professionals, who will make up 2/3 of their squads and who will need to maintain day jobs for the 10 months a year they aren’t playing in The Hundred.
But over the 8 CoE “franchises” we will nonetheless have 40 full-time professionals who won’t be playing for England, and for whom there would be time in the calendar to play multi-day cricket during the weeks of May, June and September.
We’ve got the players… we’ve got the time… we just haven’t got the teams!
So how about we make the teams, by bringing the 8 franchises together into two blocks for a North v South showdown, playing a series of three three-day matches, with full First Class status, across the summer?
It would help prepare the domestic players for playing Test cricket – it is completely ridiculous that new caps go into an Ashes Test having never played a “proper” First Class game (ie. not a “jumpers for goalposts” warm-up) in their lives.
It would also give those players who will never quite play for England something to aspire to be part of – a selection and representation opportunity below international level; and you never know – it might just uncover the odd diamond in the rough too.
It needn’t even cost much – we are already paying the players, and it doesn’t have to be played at Lords. [Although… now you mention it… Ed.]
If we want to make this happen, we can!
ECB… over to you.