Thursday, May 28, 2015

Could a Devon and Cornwall XI become the 19th first-class county?

When people talk of reform of cricket's County Championship they normally have one thing in mind: a reduction in the number of first-class counties.

As Leicestershire and Northamptonshire would be prime candidates for a cull, this makes me nervous. (My house is in Leicestershire, but was in Northamptonshire when it was built.)

So it is good to read this article by Tim Wigmore:
ECB discussions about whether the County Championship could be extended to include 21 teams in three divisions of seven have stirred the interest of Ireland and Scotland, who are eager to consider any opportunities to join England and Wales' professional system. But even if agreements could be reached with both countries the ECB would still need to find a 21st Championship team - and that would mean persuading a Minor County to put their suspicions behind them and take the plunge. 
Twenty-three years after Durham became the 18th first-class county there might now be an opportunity for another minor county - or even two or three - to be elevated. The ECB's chairman Colin Graves is known to be intrigued about whether a national pyramid‎ is possible of the sort that broke down football's closed shop when the re-election system that largely protected the status quo was finally abandoned in 1986. 
The mood in cricket is much more conservative, with a number of leading minor counties doubting their potential to join the County Championship, but if the ECB take that route they could find salvation in the furthest south-west of the country where Cornwall and Devon officials believe they could potentially combine to field a joint side.
I am all in favour of the idea, and the parallels with Durham are encouraging. They may have started with ageing players brought in from other counties, but they soon started fielding quality young players born and bred in the county.

Today they are one of the strongest county teams and Chester-le-Street hosts tests.

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