ECB ask counties to vote on change that could pave way for Twenty20 tournament to rival IPL and Big Bash

Nick Hoult
Glamorgan v Sussex in T20 could become a thing of the past - Rex Features

More than a century of cricket tradition will be left behind on Monday when the England & Wales Cricket Board proposes the introduction of a Twenty20 competition in the summer of 2020 that copies the IPL and Big Bash. 

Colin Graves, the chairman of the ECB, will ask the counties to vote in favour of a change to the board’s constitution that will allow the creation of a Twenty20 league, with eight new teams based around regions instead of counties. 

Graves describes the process as the biggest ever undertaken by the governing body, which has gone from treating the IPL and Big Bash with suspicion to envy

“Once the articles of association (in the ECB's constitution) have been changed it is all systems go,” Graves told Telegraph Sport. “I don't think the ECB has ever done as much background work, consultation and discussion on anything before.

Potential teams in new T20 competition

“This is the biggest thing the ECB has ever undertaken and there is still a lot to do. It is massive. I feel very confident it will get the go ahead. I think the counties are seeing the rationale behind it all and the implications for recreational cricket are beneficial too. 

“It is about a wider reach of people playing cricket so recreational cricket benefits. Women, children and families supporting the new competition is the audience we are looking for as well as new and bigger income streams for the game. 

“The counties all understand where we are trying to get to. They see the rationale behind it. They are nervous like everyone else because it is the unknown but I have said to all of them 'trust us and we will lead you in the right direction'.”

It is unlikely there will be any further details on where the teams will be based or their identities, which will be decided once the broadcast deal for the new tournament has been negotiated.

How the ECB's new T20 tournament will work

Opposition among the counties has fallen away in recent months with only Essex stating publicly their rejection of the proposals. The counties have been offered £1.3 million annually for five years for voting in favour of the competition.

For many of the smaller counties living on shoestring budgets, the money is a lifeline. For some of the counties based at Test-match grounds, who currently struggle to sell tickets for the Natwest Blast, the money will help with debt repayments and shift the risk of selling tickets for the new tournament on the ECB, which will control the competition centrally and lease the venues.

Most counties are voting pragmatically and with little real enthusiasm for the tournament. Ticket sales for the Natwest Blast are already 35 per cent higher than this time last year but the ECB believes the new family-friendly audience it is targeting will not be attracted to a tournament featuring county teams. 

It also believes broadcasters are only going to pay high fees for a tournament that is short and played in a set high-summer window, rather than the Natwest Blast which this summer lasts for 126 matches.

The ECB wants to copy the Big Bash formula Credit: GETTY IMAGES

The ECB will meet with the counties at Lord’s on Monday morning, and then in the afternoon with representatives from the 21 non-first-class county boards, who will also receive an equal vote on the proposed constitution change (along with the MCC and the Minor Counties Association).

At the moment the ECB's constitution states all competitions must be open to the 18 counties. The counties will push for the rewording to only be limited to the new Twenty20 tournament.

On Tuesday the ECB's executive board will ratify the change which will trigger a postal ballot of the 41 members. The ECB requires 31 of the 41 to vote in favour of the motion for it to pass.

Once that happens the ECB will start formal negotiations with broadcasters that are expected to last most of the summer. 

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