MARK ARTHUR is confident that next summer’s county 50-over Cup will build on the legacy of England’s World Cup win and denied claims that it will be reduced to a development competition in which overseas players are not allowed.
The Yorkshire chief executive is adamant that the 50-over Cup will continue to flourish despite it being staged at the same time as the controversial new 100-ball tournament that will take away the best overseas players and county professionals.
Gordon Hollins, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s managing director of county cricket, said earlier this year that “the 50-over competition will become a development competition, but that’s a price that has to be paid to fit in the new format”.
However, Arthur believes it will still be a quality product and denied widespread reports that overseas players will not be permitted due to the clash with The Hundred, which will feature eight newly-created franchises playing over five weeks in July/August.
“The 18 counties don’t want the 50-over Cup to be seen as a development competition or any dilution in the 50-over competition going forward,” said Arthur.
“We still believe it’s a really good competition and it has great relevance, so dilution in any shape or form is not part of what we require.
“There will still be overseas players because, under the constitution, you cannot change the regulations of a competition without two-thirds of the counties agreeing to it, and all 18 counties have said that they want overseas players so it will just be retained.
“I think the 50-over competition will continue to be a great competition, one that will build on England’s World Cup success.”
Up to 96 county professionals and 24 overseas players are expected to take part in The Hundred, which is designed to grow the game and broaden its appeal.
Emerald Headingley will host one of the franchises, understood to be known as “Northern Superchargers”, which is set to be coached by Darren Lehmann, the former Yorkshire batsman.
Arthur believes that there will still be quality overseas players left for the 50-over Cup because The Hundred will choose from the creme de la creme.
He accepts that there will be more chances to develop young players but not to the tournament’s detriment.
“With The Hundred, you’re only going to have three overseas players for any team, and chances are those are going to be the elite of the elite,” he said.
“Therefore, many of the overseas players that come here already won’t be in that top-24, so really it’s business as normal.
“There will be more chances for young players in a positive way, and we’re probably better placed at Yorkshire than most counties in being able to adapt to the loss of players in any case because we’re used to it due to England call-ups, etc.
“This year, with the loss of various players and injuries, we’ve given opportunities to a number of youngsters and I think this will only accelerate that process.”
It is no secret that the majority of cricket fans do not want The Hundred and see no need for a fourth format.
There are fears that it will have a negative effect on the existing formats, the County Championship and T20 Blast as well as the 50-over Cup, and the health/shape of county cricket per se.
However, there is widespread support among the shires, with counties perceiving it as a financial necessity as they grapple with their own commercial realities.
The ECB believe it is the best way of attracting a new generation of fans, particularly with a number of matches set to be shown on terrestrial television.
“I think, along with the ECB, that we’re looking to inspire the next generation,” said Arthur. “What better opportunity than through the exposure that this new competition is going to give us on the BBC, along with T20 internationals on the BBC too.
“I think the whole thing is steadily evolving – understanding The Hundred’s place in the cricketing calendar and what it’s looking to achieve.
“Personally speaking, the more cricket that we can put on in Yorkshire the better, so I see the extra four games that we’re going to have at Emerald Headingley from 2020 onwards (in The Hundred) as just that – an extra four days of cricket in Yorkshire.”
Arthur believes there will be extra benefits in that Yorkshire can take more games to Scarborough and York, as Headingley will be needed to stage The Hundred.
“Because we won’t be able to play our 50-over cricket at Headingley at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for us to play our four home games at Scarborough and York,” he said.
“For next year, we’re looking for two games to go to Scarborough and two games to go to York, which means that Scarborough will go back to having 10 days of cricket (including its two annual Championship matches).
“There’ll be a terrific atmosphere at Scarborough and York, and it’s a great opportunity for our supporters as well to see 50-over cricket taking place at those venues.
“In addition, it will certainly be one of our priorities again next year to try to win the 50-over competition.”