The England Cricket Board cannot complain about the recent enormous loss of the Ashes when its own policies have led to this situation.
The England cricket team relies on good quality players emerging from the county game. The ECB has deliberately made this less likely by pushing the four day game to the periphery. Games are played early and late in the season when the weather is likely to intervene. Players don’t develop because the games are cancelled.
The prime part of the season, when county cricketers should be enjoying good wickets and developing their skills is given over to the Hundred, a format of the game that was never needed and should not exist. It allows no Test match skills to develop but rewards a whack-and-run technique. It appears to be pushed not as a means to develop high class cricketing skills, but to widen the cricketing audience. This would be achieved naturally, if the England team was an exciting team to watch, a team that gave Australia a good game and brought the Ashes home.
Once an organisation takes its eye off its main aim it declines. This is happening at the ECB. They have decided to prioritise getting a wider audience and not improving the test team. It was a conscious decision. Losing the Ashes is a direct result.
The impression is that the ECB do not care about the Ashes anymore. The way the four day county cricket game has been treated compared with the Hundred suggests they are not prioritising test cricket.
For our test team to improve, county cricket must be taken seriously. It must be prioritised above the Hundred.