Reducing amount of cricket will not help - Filby

A view of Sussex County Cricket Club
Sussex are top of the County Championship Division Two [Getty Images]

Reducing the amount of domestic cricket will not help the sport, says Sussex chair Jon Filby.

It comes after research from the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) found 81% of players have concerns about the physical toll of the fixture list.

Former England captain Joe Root is leading calls from players to review a schedule that is “not fit for purpose”.

But Filby told Test Match Special he "absolutely rejects" the idea that fewer matches should be played.

"The issue that we, as the counties, would have is Sussex cricket have got three days to put before our members during July and four days during August, and that isn't enough cricket," Filby said.

"From my perspective, I would say I want more cricket. I understand that is also completely unrealistic. The main thing that I do agree with them on is that the schedule is abysmal."

The PCA said players fear for their welfare, with tight turnarounds between fixtures leaving little time for recovery and practice, and also potentially leading to dangerous travel plans.

Counties play a minimum of 14 Championship matches, 14 T20 Blast fixtures and eight in the One-Day Cup, equating to at least 78 days of cricket in the season.

This season there are 55 instances of counties playing on back-to-back days in the Blast - a particular pinch point of the schedule in June and July - up from 34 last year.

"We do have to get that schedule right," Filby said. "It's crazy that we have just come out of a really dank and nasty spell of weather, and yet we're a quarter of the way through the County Championship already. We should just be starting the Championship now.

"We have a ground here that is a world-class facility and, in order to maintain it, we need to attract crowds to come to matches as much as we can. That's what we that's why we need fixtures."

The PCA is scheduled to present the players’ views on how the schedule could be cut to the ECB, but any alteration to the structure of domestic competitions must be approved by counties.

Somerset head coach Jason Kerr believes the current schedule is preventing players from performing at their best.

"The demands on players have gone through the roof and what their current schedule doesn't allow is the opportunities to recover, to reflect and prepare properly," said Kerr.

"We're trying to encourage guys to be the best version of themselves and put in performances that lead to international recognition. The way the schedule is at the minute, it doesn't allow for people being at their best for six months."


Stephan Shemilt, BBC Sport chief cricket writer

When players ask for a reduction in the schedule, they are essentially asking their own counties for a cut in the amount of cricket, because it is the counties that decide on the make-up of competitions. When the ECB's high-performance review recommended cuts two years ago, the counties rejected them.

This debate comes at a crucial time for the domestic game in England. This week, counties are set to indicate to the ECB whether they accept proposals for how teams in The Hundred will be sold.

It can be argued that this, right now, is the most important moment in generations when it comes to the domestic game.

No one can seem to agree on a way forward. The game serves so many masters and The Hundred team sales are either destroying or saving the counties, depending on who you believe.

Frankly, the ongoing arguments and competing agendas are tiresome. Some strong leadership is badly needed.