VIEW FROM THE BLUES: What does the future hold for Northants?

Friday night T20 matches were a big hit at the County Ground in 2015
Friday night T20 matches were a big hit at the County Ground in 2015

So a well-earned break for the lads this week, and I suppose it is the right time to ask the question what exactly next season will bring us?

As far as I know, mid October is the time the ECB will decide Northants’ future, when our funding for the seasons from 2016 to 2108 is discussed.

Hopefully, some of the £500,000 we need as a loan will be incorporated as direct funding.

I’m pretty confident the Borough Council would step in with the rest to cover any shortfall, as Northants have a plan to make more economies.

It’s not confirmed, but I understand the club will get two payments of around £15,000 for David Willey over two years, and has also made few quid from NatWest Blast T20 Finals Day.

I think the whole Willey thing is really unfair and annoying, because Yorkshire are in debt to the tune of £22 million!

They are spending beyond their means to win back-to-back championships by poaching players and weakening smaller teams like Northants, pushing us closer to the cliff edge.

If we operate an equally subsidised 18-county system, then that’s what it should be.

The second team budget is also being hit.

After the relationship broke down with Campbell Park in Milton Keynes, Northants are looking to move all of the second team games back to Northampton.

It costs a decent sum to hold these matches in places like Desborough and Stowe School, so that will probably end.

Northants are also looking to cut the first team squad down to 16 or 17 professionals.

I think we know who is going, and although we don’t agree with some of them, we know we have to cut the wage bill and employ young English lads to maximise our ECB subsidy.

Some of the older players that may be released will be bitter about it, but there is nowhere for the club to go now, and anyone who comes in will need to play all forms of the game.

It was sad to see James Middlebrook go last year, and Stephen Peters this year, but the game moves on.

I don’t think there is any doubt the ECB have employed some torch-carrying young bucks alongside Tom Harrison to move the domestic game towards City-based franchise cricket.

One plan is to burn back the space they need mid-season with those flaming torches so to plant those franchise seeds by only playing championship games in April, May and September.

As absurd as that sounds, it could well happen - so bring your fleeces!

The 50-over competition is also under threat and likely to return to a knockout competition.

Championship cricket at weekends is a complete waste of time and money, and I hope they bring back one day Sunday cricket.

We all love it, and still pulls a decent crowd all year round. That’s not the case with the 50-over format. Floodlit 50-over matches in the week are a bomb.

The 18 chairmen have agreed with the ECB to cut championship games down to 14 or even 12 under the premise of improving the England white ball team for the Champions Trophy (2017) and the World Cup (2019).

This would allow the leagues to be restructured.

The talk is of a top league of eight, and a bottom league of 10.

The top league would play each other twice, and whatever can be sorted in league two.

This would encourage yet more result green pitches, with no sign of creating the spin attack we need for England to win away in South East Asia.

I also can’t see Northants being able to afford to cut the membership price for less cricket.

Nottinghamshire charge £118 for a full membership, and at £236 to watch Northants, we are effectively funding Notts’ members to watch better players for half the price with the same ECB central handout.

The odds are really stacking up against Northants’ survival in the long term.

As far as City-based franchise cricket goes, it looks like the counties are moving against it, with 13 of the 18 Chief Execs reticent.

It will also be near impossible for it to happen until at least 2020 due to the scheduled England and World cricket calendar.

The Blast has seen attendances rise 20 per cent in the last two years as the bulk of the games were moved to Friday nights over the warmer summer months.

People love that slot, and a later start moved to 7pm would increase crowds even more under the lights.

It gives parents time to get the kids ready for cricket after work and school, and the lads to go on for a good drink.

But the recent PCA survey has found the players would prefer to return to a big block of T20 games over four to six weeks with no championship interruptions.

By doing this, the players and clubs sacrifice the big attendances built up on Friday nights for quieter games in the week.

The only real negative to the current Friday night cricket is the overseas stars are becoming more expensive and harder to find to commit through May, June and July, and for only one game a week.

I appreciate players get tired, but bombing around the country to play 16 Twenty20 games in the space of four to six weeks is surely even more exhausting than one a week after a leisurely four days of full flat-pitch draws in the championship, where players spend all match going off to read the paper or check the racing results!