Yorkshire chairman to propose reduction in first-class counties

• David Morgan set to unveil review into county game
• 'Somebody has got to bite the bullet,' says Colin Graves

Yorkshire's chairman, Colin Graves, is prepared to raise the unthinkable and debate a reduction in the 18 first-class counties when David Morgan unveils his review into the county game at Lord's on Wednesday.

Morgan, former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board and former president of the International Cricket Council, will inevitably recommend a reduction in the amount of county cricket when he makes his presentation to the ECB but few expect him to propose the most fundamental change of all by calling for some of the weaker counties to lose their first-class status.

Graves, one of three county chairmen on the ECB's 14-strong board, says that, if Morgan's review reveals more problems than solutions, he will risk unpopularity by asking whether 18 counties should remain sacrosanct.

"Somebody somewhere has got to bite the bullet," Graves said. "I am not averse to sitting on the board and saying my bit. If it means fewer counties, then we have to do it, simple as that.

"It will be interesting to hear what David Morgan says. The board have then got to pick that up and say something about it. We can all sit there and blame David Morgan – all he will be doing is laying some facts on the table.

"The present model we've got and the amount of cricket we play is too much. Nobody knows when the hell we are playing. The players say it is too much, everybody says it is too much."

Morgan toured England for most of the summer to try to find a consensus about how English county cricket can remain commercially viable and yet reduce a swollen fixture list that will see the first round of championship matches beginas early as 5 April next season. Thenumber of Twenty20 and Clydesdale Bank 40 fixtures has already been reduced for 2012.

If he succeeds, he will surpass an endless series of reviews, the last of them only 18 months ago, that have failed to bring any coherent, long-term vision for the county game.


David Hopps

The GuardianTramp

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