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Sir Andrew Strauss hopes review will make English game ‘cleaner and more simple’

Sir Andrew Strauss is nearing the conclusion of his performance review of English cricket (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Sir Andrew Strauss is nearing the conclusion of his performance review of English cricket (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sir Andrew Strauss hopes his performance review of English cricket can help make the domestic game “a little bit cleaner and more simple” and called for the buy-in of the 18 first-class counties.

The former England captain is currently leading a wide-ranging investigation into the domestic structure and whether the county system prepares players properly for the rigours of international cricket with the long-term ambition of England being the best team in the world across all three formats.

Strauss is nearing the conclusion of the review and will put forward proposals to the first-class counties shortly, with 12 required to vote in favour of his recommendations for them to be implemented.

“We are obviously very cognizant that the counties will vote on whatever schedule we actually have so they have to be very conscious of their members’ thoughts and make sure they are respectful of the traditions of the game,” Strauss told Test Match Special.

“Our job running this high-performance review is to put options in front of them and say we think this moves cricket forward in this country and this will help us achieve our ambitions alongside all the other measures we put in place.

“Hopefully we get a new domestic structure which is a little bit cleaner and more simple that encourages better cricket and more intense cricket along the way.

“I honestly believe there is a really clear way through for us as a game but it is not going to be easy. We are in this consultation phase for the next month or so and then hopefully after that we can give some concrete proposals.

“It is difficult politically for us to move forward but a lot of what we’re talking about in this high-performance review, I honestly believe it is in everyone’s best interests and will not be controversial.”

The Hundred, English cricket’s franchise tournament, continues to be a point of contention but Strauss believes Test cricket can survive alongside the new format created by the England and Wales Cricket Board to help engage a new audience in the sport.

Despite the rise of franchise leagues seemingly threating the future of red-ball cricket, Strauss is confident his recommendations can keep an appetite for the next generation to represent England in the longest format.

“Look at the rise of franchise tournaments all around the world, the incredible investment that is going into these tournaments and quite frankly the pressure on the international game that comes off the back of it. We can’t have our head in the sand on this,” the 45-year-old insisted.

“We need to make The Hundred, in my opinion, into the best tournament it can possibly be. We want it to have all the best stars in it, to do exactly what it is designed to do which is engage a new audience and create a buzz around English cricket.

“Of course we need to balance that with… my favourite format is Test cricket and it is the same boat for most people but that is not the whole cricket audience. It is part of the cricket audience and I think the two can survive side by side but not without some rough patches along the way.

“The game of cricket will muddle forward but I think what we have the opportunity to do as part of this review is let’s provide some potential solutions that allows our players to concentrate on red-ball cricket, gives them incentives to do so but also gives them some freedom to take the incredible financial inducements they get from playing franchise cricket.

“We can’t stop our players doing that and nor would we want to, so there is a balance to achieve there. It is not easy and by the way it will never be perfect. It is about hopefully moving things forward in the right direction rather than having a perfect solution for everyone.”