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Sir Andrew Strauss' English cricket high-performance review recommends reduction to county cricket schedule

The document states that "this review has not looked at, and will not seek to change, the number of first-class counties"; the current mark of 14 first-class fixtures is set to remain in 2023 while consensus is sought, but shrinking the domestic schedule said to be a priority

Andrew Strauss arrives on day six of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 6, 2019. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos.

A slimmed-down top division in the County Championship and a reduction in overall playing days are among the initial recommendations of Sir Andrew Strauss' high-performance review into English cricket.

On Friday, Strauss made public the consultation document his review sent to the first-class counties on Thursday evening. The document states early on, that "this review has not looked at, and will not seek to change, the number of first-class counties".

The current mark of 14 first-class fixtures is set to remain next season while consensus is sought, but in a blog published by the ECB, Strauss has made it clear shrinking the current domestic schedule is a priority.

Strauss, whose panel of experts for the review includes Sir Dave Brailsford, Dan Ashworth and current director of England men's cricket Rob Key, wrote: "Initial options for the game to discuss include a revamped 50-over competition and a smaller LV= Insurance County Championship top division to ensure higher standards and more intense best v best red-ball cricket.

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Sir Andrew Strauss and Michael Atherton discuss England's domestic cricket structure and the challenges it presents as Strauss heads up the ECB's high-performance review that is set to give its recommendations in September.

"Our research shows that the first-class counties play a higher volume of cricket compared to the rest of the world, while feedback from players is that a reduction in the amount of men's domestic cricket played is essential.

"We have made our initial proposals and findings and now it will be for the first-class counties to make any decisions over domestic structures - all we can do is provide them with informed recommendations.

"We want a thriving and future-proofed men's domestic game, in which all 18 first-class counties are established at the heart of our ambitions."

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The review, led by the former England captain and director of men's cricket, has been conducting a broad assessment of the men's game, prompted in part by the team's 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Australia in last winter's Ashes.

In terms of the national side, Strauss added he was keen to make England men's central contracts "multi-year", with a higher allocation to those who play more than one format as the game contents with a bloated international calendar and the lure of franchise white-ball tournaments around the world.

Strauss added: "From an England perspective the proposals look at how we could evolve central contracts to offer more security to our high-profile players and better reflect the changing dynamics in the world game."

Also among the recommendations is a proposed move for the domestic 50-over competition - currently played at the same time as The Hundred - to the start of the season, "with a smaller group stage and emphasis on knockouts".

There is a wish for a greater emphasis to be placed on England Lions' red-ball cricket, as well as North v South red-ball fixtures in the UAE before the season begins to expose players of potential to overseas conditions.

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