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ECB set to cut number of Twenty20 matches

The ECB are expected to announce that next years Friends Provident t20 tournament will be cut from 16 group games to 10 after this years event was greeted with a lukewarm response from spectators.

At a meeting at Lords on Thursday the ECB committee unanimously recommended that next years tournament should revert back to three groups with each team playing 10 games, 5 at home and 5 away.

Although seven of the Counties voted against the changes; the ECB's management board is expected to endorse the reduction in matches when they meet next week.

The tournament, which replaced the Twenty20 Cup; started off promisingly with a full house at Hove to watch the Sussex Sharks take on the Somerset Sabres, a repeat of the 2009 Twenty20 Cup final, a game the Sharks won.

Unfortunately this proved to be one of the highlights of the tournament which saw some games being played in front of crowds of less then 2,000.

With spectator levels dropping to worrying levels a number of counties resorted to giving away hundreds of tickets to local cricket clubs and schools in an effort to boost flagging attendances.

The biggest sign that Twenty20 cricket has reached saturation point came at the Brit Oval during the second week of the tournament when only 4,900 people turned up to watch Gloucestershire’s 10 wicket demolition of Surrey.

Yorkshire was one of the Counties which voted in favour to reduce the number of games in next years tournament after suffering a number of poorly attended group matches.

Stewart Regan, Yorkshire's chief executive admitted the attendance levels at Headingly this summer only matched those of 2009 despite hosting three extra home games.

In a interview with the Yorkshire Post Regan said "In our view, eight Twenty20 games home and away has caused fixture congestion, lack of rest days and hasn't seen the upturn in attendances people expected."

"This year at Yorkshire we saw a similar total crowd across our home Twenty20 games to what we saw in 2009, but we had the costs of three extra home matches to carry."

"We had just over 10,000 for the Lancashire game, which, given that the weather was okay was a disappointing attendance because we've had a full house in previous years."

source - cricket20.com
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