ECB draws flak for scrapping 50-over format

London, Aug 28 ( The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) decision to drop the

50-over format from its domestic calendar has come in for sharp criticism from national players and the team management.

ECB replaced the 50-over format with a 40-over competition from 2010 after the 18 first-class counties voted 13-5 for the new structure that they feel holds much greater commercial value.

But there were serious concerns that the interests of the national team will be compromised. The England management have expressed their preference for the 50-over format.

The potential lack of experience in the format for emerging players is a subject that concerns national selector Geoff Miller.

“If there is a global 50-over tournament, we have to participate in it, and if all we are playing is 40-over cricket then I have a problem with that,” The Times Friday quoted Miller as saying.

“I am looking at it from a cricketing point of view. I understand there is a financial point of view as well. My job as national selector is to win cricket matches and if we do that, it makes money along the line, as will happen with the Ashes,” Miller said.

The Professional Cricketers’ Association was also in favour of retaining the 50-over competition.

England’s veteran batsman Paul Collingwood said that the move could have a bearing on the country’s performance in the One-dayers.

“We want county cricket to mirror international cricket, simple as that. It is important that players are getting the experience before they get to the international stage. If we are not playing the 50-over game (at the county level) it is going to be a hindrance,” Collingwood said before the game against Ireland.

Playing conditions in the 40-over competition will be tailored along the lines of One-day internationals, including powerplays and fielding restrictions.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke said that counties believed these measures would help players to prepare for international cricket.

“Coaches reported through their county votes that the leading team in one-day cricket, South Africa, do not mirror 50 overs at the domestic level and that, provided that powerplays and fielding restrictions were the same as the international format, the skills required were very similar,” Clarke maintained.

At the international level, there has been a feeling in recent times that one-day internationals are failing to attract crowd as they have become predictable. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has commercial and broadcasting commitments in place for 50-over cricket up to the 2015 World Cup.

The ECB said Thursday that the ICC will be reviewing the future of 50-over cricket after the next World Cup in 2011, but a spokesman for the world governing body said that this review will relate to playing conditions rather than the structure of One-day cricket.

Counties have struggled to sell 50-over cricket to their supporters and the move was a welcome boost in difficult economic times.

Mark Tagg, the Northamptonshire chief executive, said: “There are straightforward commercial and financial reasons why we prefer 40 overs to 50, because people would much rather watch the shorter game. They prefer to spend the morning at home, then come to the cricket after lunch. That’s the modern way and we have to fit in with that.”

The 40-over competition, to be played largely on Sundays, is due to include 21 teams in three groups, playing 12 games each throughout the season, leading to a semi-final and a final in September.