A change of heart at the ECB could see the County Championship – rather than the One-Day Cup – played at the same time as the Hundred from 2021.
Next summer the domestic one-day competition is scheduled to be played at the same time as the Hundred, meaning England’s best limited-overs players will not be available for 50-over cricket. But Ashley Giles, the managing director of England men’s cricket, has suggested that decision could be reviewed after the 2020 season.
While he insisted the 50-over competition would provide an opportunity for “young guys to get exposure” in 2020, he did admit that, ahead of the 2023 World Cup in India, the ECB may look to ensure the domestic competition is of as high a standard as possible and not hit by absences.
“It definitely will be 50-over alongside the Hundred next summer, but this will be consistently reviewed,” Giles told The Cricketer in an interview in their November edition. “You could then move your 50-over back to the start of the year.
“Fifty-over cricket remains really important. But we have to prioritise slightly differently over the next few years. We have two T20 World Cups ahead of the 2023 50-over World Cup. We’ll still play 50-over.
“Can I sit here and say it’s the most important thing when it’s being playing alongside the Hundred – no, I can’t. You’d laugh at me. It’s actually a really good competition for some young guys to get exposure. Then in 2021 we might have a look at the scheduling again.”
One option likely to be discussed by the ECB cricket committee now chaired by Andrew Strauss is the possibility of staging Championship games – perhaps offering half the points of matches at other stages of the season when all players are available – during the window designed to accommodate the Hundred. That will not be a universally popular option and may lead to suggestions that the ECB is compromising the integrity of the first-class game and, as a consequence, the development of the Test side.
But Giles feels the benefits, not least playing more first-class in the prime weeks of the summer when conditions should encourage spin bowling, are worth further consideration.
“People will say the integrity of the Championship would be in question,” Giles said. “But you could view it slightly differently: play with a points system, and have a healthy mix of senior players who are not in the Hundred, alongside some 19 and 20-years-olds.
“You could have four rounds of Championship cricket at the height of summer, on good pitches that might spin. A lot of county members like seeing the young players, at outgrounds. That would be great.”