Sir Andrew Strauss: ECB high performance review hope to set out recommendations for changes to domestic cricket in September

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ECB high performance review to put forward recommendations to the first-class counties by “mid-September”, with 12 required to vote in favour for them to be implemented; Strauss: “This is not about the counties doing one thing and England doing another. It’s about the game coming together”

Last Updated: 18/08/22 6:26am

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Sir Andrew Strauss and Michael Atherton discuss England’s domestic cricket structure and the challenges it presents

Sir Andrew Strauss and Michael Atherton discuss England’s domestic cricket structure and the challenges it presents

Sir Andrew Strauss says he hopes English cricket can “come together” when the ECB’s high performance review sets out its recommendations for changes to the structure and scheduling of the domestic game.

Former England captain Strauss has been leading the review which was put in place following England’s dismal 4-0 defeat to Australia in the Ashes last winter, the aim being to help England become the “best side in the world at all formats”.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Strauss said the review is nearing its conclusion and they hope to put forward recommendations to the first-class counties by “mid-September”, with 12 required to vote in favour for them to be implemented.

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Strauss said: “Our approach has been, not to look at it from an opinion-based perspective, but to rather go, ‘what’s our ambition as a cricketing nation?’

“Do we feel that England can be the best team in the world across all three formats? I believe we can.

“So if that’s our ambition, where are we relative to that and where can we learn about high-performance systems that work really well?”

Sir Dave Brailsford, currently the director of sport at cycling team Ineos and former performance director of British Cycling, has been involved as part of the review, as has Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth, former Football Association director of elite development.

Team INEOS principal Sir Dave Brailsford has been involved in the ECB’s high performance review into English cricket

Also involved are Kate Baker, director of performance at UK Sport, Simon Timson, Manchester City’s performance director and Penny Hughes, ex-chair of Aston Martin, while the ECB’s new directory of men’s cricket Rob Key has been one of a number of contributors from inside cricket.

“The other thing about this review is, we’ve also got to be cognisant and recognise that the cricket world is changing unbelievably quickly around us,” Strauss said “There’s the rise of the franchises around the world; this is about future-proofing the game in this country as well.

“What we’re trying to do is put together a group of recommendations to the game about how do we come together to allow England to be successful, but also make sure there’s a vibrant, professional game sitting beneath that which prepares players as well as they can for the England team.

“We’ve got to look at things like player incentives, the pitches that we play on, the balls we use, maybe even the points structure in domestic cricket.

“And of course we are looking at the domestic game generally. How can we makes sense of this really difficult and convoluted schedule that we have?

“This is not about the counties doing one thing and England doing another. It’s about the game, at high-performances level, coming together – what are we trying to develop and how do we best do that together?”

Strauss, who was the ECB’s director of England men’s cricket from 2015 to 2018, helped oversee a period of dominance for England in white-ball cricket culminating in the team winning the World Cup at home in 2019, but cricket’s demanding schedule is making it increasingly difficult to consistently challenge in all three formats.

The congested calendar has recently come into sharp focus following England Test captain Ben Stokes’ decision to retire from the 50-over game at just 31 years old, citing the “unsustainable” schedule.

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Ben Stokes explains how he came to the decision to retire from one-day internationals, but says that he wants to go much further in his Test career

Ben Stokes explains how he came to the decision to retire from one-day internationals, but says that he wants to go much further in his Test career

The domestic structure poses similar problems, with Strauss referring to it as a “Rubik’s cube”.

“The players’ welfare has got to be at the forefront of things and we also have to think about how do we make sure we’ve got the balance of competitions to allow our best players to play high-intensity cricket,” Strauss said. “And we’ve also got to get the right balance between red and white-ball cricket.

“There is not a perfect solution. Since the beginning of time, any changes to the domestic structure have always been contentious and this time won’t be any different.

“We will put some options on the table for the game to consider, but the counties, the county chairs, have a vote on what domestic structure is played – and so the ball eventually will be in their court as to what they think is the right way forward.”

He added: “I think there has been some mischievousness around in the media and other areas, throwing potential solutions out there or things we might be thinking about – most of it completely wide of the mark – and it has got people very polarised before we even start talking about this.

“I don’t think that’s helpful. We can come together as a game. English cricket is actually, generally, in a good place.

“It can get better but it’s a case of what it is going to take is for us to work together in order to do that?”

Watch day two of first LV= Insurance Test between England and South Africa, at Lord’s, live on Sky Sports Cricket on Thursday. Coverage starts at 10.15am, with play getting underway at 11am.

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