“Hi, I’ve only got seven quid. Could you cut 80 per cent of my hair?”
Some things have to be done in full. Incompletion is unsatisfactory. As another example, if you have some sort of sports competition, it’s preferable to have everyone competing on an equal footing. If each team plays most of the other teams in its league twice and a couple of them once, that doesn’t really work.
Yet that’s what’s happening with the County Championship from 2014. It’s a spectacularly literal and mindless solution to there being too much cricket, like trying to make a Formula One car lighter by removing the brake pads.
Cricket has a staggering ability to present you with a bowl of soil and bones after you’ve given it chicken and mushrooms to work with. It’s like people go out of their way to leave you dissatisfied.
To comprehensively underline the fact that the entire point of the exercise has been missed, there will also be at least 14 Twenty20 matches for each county in 2014. Attendances for the shortest format dwindled in 2011 and there will be a reduction to 10 matches in 2012. This decision is being reversed before the effects have even been seen.
Basically, the days saved by the amputation of two vital first-class fixtures will instead be used so that the nation’s cricketers can sit in buses on their way to a few Twenty20 matches which no-one gives a toss about.