Harrison believes T20 shake-up can help English cricket become self-reliant

18 March 2017 09:08

Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, believes shaking up the domestic Twenty20 structure will ensure English cricket can control its revenue streams.

While interest in the NatWest T20 Blast rose last year, the current format is still viewed by many as a poor relation to the highly lucrative Indian Premier League or the Big Bash League in Australia.

Harrison has arguably been pushing hardest to change that dynamic and a new eight-team tournament is in the pipeline for its inaugural staging in 2020.

The competition has already caused some controversy as streamlining the number of participants could leave some counties out in the cold, but Harrison hopes it can go a long way towards self-sustaining cricket in the country.

Harrison outlined that the ECB is heavily reliant on international cricket - a market it cannot control and where Indian television audiences can generate large streams of income - and seeks to address the balance.

"International cricket is coming under pressure with successful ICC events on the one side and domestic T20 leagues on the other," Harrison told the Times.

"We are the outliers in this debate in that we rely on Test cricket and international cricket for over 90 per cent of our revenue. We don't control international cricket, if there is risk there we need to look at it. We need to derive our revenue from something we control, and that something is domestic T20.

"The game has been complacent about revenues from the Indian market. That's dangerous and we're about to find out how dangerous that is because it's changing. English cricket can do an awful lot about plotting its own destiny but can do very little about how the Indian television viewers respond to its product.

"We've grown fat on the revenues from India and we need to recognise that our business needs to be self-reliant."

In an ever-changing landscape, Harrison also revealed he would be in favour of trialling four-day Tests in a bid to improve the format's popularity.

Day-night Tests have already proved overwhelmingly successful in Australia, where England will play an Ashes match under lights for the first time at Adelaide in December.

Before then England will play its first day-night Test against West Indies in August.

But Harrison is eager to explore other ideas, adding: "We've seen a lot of amazing Tests over five days but we haven't really tested the theory as to whether the players' mindset changes over four.

"I had to be convinced because when I started out I was massively against it, but I am for it because with Test cricket there is a risk of us loving it to death. We have to adapt. I am absolutely convinced the game can flourish over three forms."

Source: PA