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ECB to look at major changes

The England and Wales Cricket Board's top brass will discuss proposals for changes to the domestic season's structure on Thursday - with great emphasis on 20-over cricket.

The ECB board will consider restructuring the Twenty20 competition, a total revamp of the NatWest Pro40 across two 20-over innings per side and tinkering with the County Championship.

A range of options are being considered, although nothing will be decided before the latest batch of market research has been completed next month.

Any subsequent changes will not come into force until 2010 at the earliest due to current agreements with broadcasters and sponsors.

Time in the scheduling needs to be freed up to allow a slot for an English Premier League tournament to rival the Indian Premier League.

However, neither regionalising the Championship nor reducing matches to three days once more - both of which would free up days in the calendar - would service the Test side as well as the current system of divisional four-day cricket.

The ECB are also now committed to accommodating a quadrangular Twenty20 tournament bankrolled by the Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

Therefore something has to give: the most sensible option would be the abandonment of the 40-over competition as it has no place on the international stage.

At the same time, retaining the 50-over Friends Provident competition would provide aspiring England players with meaningful practice for one-day internationals.

Whichever way the summer is recast, problems are inevitable but from the perspective of broadcasters and sponsors it is important any EPL does not clash with England's summer itinerary - allowing the best players to grace the tournament.

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