England's Dawid Malan: "We can't argue that the county system is working if we've only been number one in Test cricket for X amount of time'; batter backs changes to county system which include reduction in number of County Championship and Vitality Blast matches
Friday 30 September 2022 13:49, UK
Dawid Malan has publicly backed the proposals for changes to the county game, saying "less cricket at a higher intensity" would benefit players, allow them to commit to all forms and help England's Test side.
The England and Wales Cricket Board's high-performance review, chaired by former England captain and director of cricket Sir Andrew Strauss, has suggested cutting the number of matches in the County Championship and Vitality Blast from 14 to 10.
Those modifications, which include a streamlined red-ball top flight of six teams, could be implemented in time for the 2024 season if at least 12 of the 18 counties vote for them.
"Members raised questions and spoke with passion, with the overriding expression being one of opposition to the proposals which impact the domestic structure, including a reduction in the amount of cricket played across all formats.
"The discourse suggested emphasis should be placed on the schedule, rather than structure, while there is no compelling argument within the current proposals to suggest that change would necessarily be for the betterment of the game."
Derbyshire have become the latest county to oppose the plans, with Lancashire previously expressing "significant concerns" over the proposals and Kent, Essex and Somerset releasing statements opposing the plans the day they were unveiled by the ECB.
Speaking to reporters in Lahore ahead of England's sixth T20 international against Pakistan, Malan said: "If you're a player that is trying to get better at your game, there's no time to work on your game and you're burning yourself out.
"With less cricket at a higher intensity and the ability to actually train and prepare for those games, I think your bowlers will be fitter.
"They will be able to bowl quicker for longer periods, it will be more challenging for batters and you can actually improve your game.
"We can't argue that the county system is working if we've only been number one in the world [in Test cricket] for X amount of time.
"We've produced some world-class cricketers but it's how the English system can produce cricketers that are going to be playing cricket similar to Test cricket.
"Testing them in all conditions, so that when they do make the step up, it's not like you're having to learn on the job.
"If you can create something that's going to encourage people to keep playing all formats of the game, that's going to be the winner for English cricket moving forward.
"It has to make it appealing for players to still want to play four-day cricket, scheduling-wise, so there is a bit of time between games for them to rest, recover and work on their games.
"You don't want to lose a lot of cricket but you don't want to get to the stage where people are saying 'it's too much, and I'd rather play XYZ'.
"Look at a young player like Will Jacks.
"I know he's got Test ambitions but if he starts doing really well and gets into the England white-ball stuff regularly and he's playing around the world in the winter in three or four tournaments, by the time it comes to April, then he is probably knackered after playing three or four [Championship] games.
"Something has to give for players like that."
Malan has no plans to quit red-ball cricket for now and is eager to add to his 22 Test caps, the last of which came during the final Ashes Test in Hobart in January.
However, at 35, the left-hander is realistic about his chances of a comeback in the longest form.
Malan added: "I'd still love to play Test cricket. Whether that's done or not, it's not up to me. I think it's pretty much done, but we'll find out and see how that works out.
"I still want to win trophies and have some goals that I want to achieve in terms of amount of runs and hundreds."
Watch England's sixth T20 international in Pakistan live on Sky Sports Cricket on Friday. Coverage begins at 3pm with the first ball at 3.30pm.