ECB resistant to counties' wish for Blast increase

External view of the ECB offices at Lord's ESPNcricinfo Ltd

There could be more conflict in county cricket after it emerged that the ECB executive is resisting calls from the first-class counties to increase the number of T20 Blast games played each season.

ESPNcricinfo reported in August that several county chairmen were arguing for an increase in the number of matches from 14 to 16 from the start of the 2020 season.

But with the ECB bringing in their new competition, The Hundred, that year and the schedule already groaning under the weight of fixtures, there is understood to be strong resistance to the move from the executive.

The issue is one of those sure to be discussed at a meeting of all the county chairmen on Thursday. Other matters up for discussion will include an alteration to the County Championship programme which is likely to see a top division of 10 teams and a second of eight introduced in 2020.

That would mean only one team would be relegated (and three promoted) at the end of 2019. With no plans to increase the number of Championship fixtures from 14 games, it would also mean that teams in the top division would no longer play all other teams home and away. Some counties are concerned this compromises the integrity of the competition.

Some county chairmen are also understood to be looking for assurances from ECB chairman Colin Graves that he will not attempt to stand for re-election at this end of his term of office.

While Graves vowed when he was appointed he would only serve one term, rumours persist that he is contemplating a longer stay in office.

The meeting will also see county chairmen given a first opportunity to see an external report compiled by Good Governance Institute (GGI) following payments made to Glamorgan in return for their forfeiture of hosting Test cricket for the foreseeable future.

The payments caused some unrest in the county game, with two ECB board members - Andy Nash and Richard Thompson - resigning in protest and some members of the ECB's Audit, Risk and Governance committee expressing reservations.