Malan backs move to cut back County Championship and Blast schedules

‘You just go from one game to the next… like you are going through the motions’: Dawid Malan launches stinging broadside at county cricket… with England star backing controversial move to cut back Championship and T20 Blast schedule

  • Dawid Malan advocates greater emphasis being placed on preparation 
  • Andrew Strauss’ high performance review recommends reduction in games 
  • The proposed schedule changes have led to a fierce backlash around the shires

Dawid Malan has endorsed proposals to reduce the number of matches played by first-class counties from 2024.

At the heart of Andrew Strauss’ high performance review recommendations is a cut from 14 County Championship fixtures a season to 10, and a replica reduction in the Vitality Blast group stages – schedule changes that have led to a fierce backlash around the shires.

However, Malan – a player who has represented England in Test, one-day and Twenty20 cricket this year – advocates greater emphasis being placed on preparation.

England star Dawid Malan advocates greater emphasis being placed on preparation

‘It is a little bit like this tour here, where it feels like all you are doing is playing game after game but you’re not actually given the opportunity to improve and to work on your game,’ said Malan, ahead of this Friday’s penultimate match of seven T20s versus Pakistan.

‘County cricket becomes like that, where you just go from one game to the next game and it becomes like you are going through the motions.

‘You’re burning yourself out, so I do think less cricket at a higher intensity and the ability to actually train and prepare for those games, will mean your bowlers will be fitter, able to bowl quicker for longer periods of time, and it will be more challenging for the batters.

Sir Andrew Strauss is hoping to preserve red-ball cricket with his high-performance review

‘If I’m playing for England and I go back to Yorkshire after a summer, I want to improve but if there’s no days of training and you’re just playing then you’re experimenting in games, and you get judged on (that).’

One major focus for Strauss in convening a group of experts to consider ways to improve high-end performance was that only once – for a fleeting period in 2011 – have England topped the world Test rankings.

‘We can’t argue that the county system is working if we’ve only been number one in the world for X amount of time,’ Malan added.

County Championship games would be cut from 14 to 10 games while the top division would consist of six teams

‘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, and 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.’

England trail 3-2 to the Pakistanis after twice flunking chases they should have completed in recent days but Malan says the fact that they were ‘one ball away’ at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday should be a lesson for them despite making a horlicks of a 146-run target against opponents bowling with a dew-soaked ball.

Chris Woakes, who made his comeback from a six-month injury lay-off in that match, is set to return to the sidelines amongst various rest and rotation changes by the tourists ahead of next month’s World Cup in Australia.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s teenage pace bowler Naseem Shah has been ruled out of the rest of the series as he recovers from pneumonia. Hospitalised for two days, Shah returned to the team hotel.

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