The latest idea to revolutionise the county game comes from Jack Simmons, who wants a return to three-day championship cricket in order to make way for more Twenty20. But it is a ridiculous idea.
Few would dispute that standards have risen in recent years with, first, the introduction of four-day cricket and then the introduction of two divisions. While the plethora of Kolpaks is a major irritant, they have, too, helped to raise standards. The best young players are still making their way; it does them no harm that competition for places is sterner than was once the case.
While there are flaws with the county game, the championship is certainly not one of them. The idea to cut back to three-days, while flogging bowlers into the ground with 120-over days, is clearly designed for no reason other than money. The current system is faring commendably in ensuring players who begin in Test cricket are immediately ready - from youngsters like Panesar and Cook to relative stalwarts like Sidebottom.
Simmons' idea is laden with flaws. Principally, the intensity of the county championship, which many players say has never been higher (certainly in Division One) would clearly suffer. Bowlers could not possibly operate anywhere near full capacity over such long days. Concern would switch from how to dismiss the opposition to maintaining a good over rate. Above all, the county championship would be vastly dissimilar to the model it is meant to mirror. Its number one function should be to prepare future internationals for the Test game. This would be a retrograde step in achieving that goal, and would only serve to devalue the championship.
There could well be scope for increasing the Twenty20 and making county cricket more self-sufficient. However, there are much better ways to do that. Scrapping the Pro40 to make room for more Twenty20, or extending the season into October to allow for both more Twenty20 and rest between games during the season are two possible ways forward. Simmons' suggestion, however, has no merit if England are serious in their intention to become the world's number one Test side.