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Vaughan clears air over County axe

London: England captain Michael Vaughan was forced to clarify his position over the future of domestic cricket after he was reported as saying that he favoured dropping two Counties to help reduce the number of matches played every summer.

Parts of an interview — due to be published in the new Wisden Cricketer magazine on Friday — were made public on Tuesday and reported that Vaughan had called for the 18-team County championship to be reduced to 16, split into two divisions with each club playing each other once.

However, Vaughan said that although he was worried about the amount of cricket played, he was not in favour of axing Counties.

“I have developed through the County system myself, and I certainly do not support a reduction in the number of first-class Counties,” said Vaughan’s statement released through the England and Wales Cricket Board last night.

“It’s important that people all over the country have the opportunity to watch first-class cricket and the huge success of the new Twenty20 Cup shows there is a significant appetite for the game.”

In Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph, the England skipper said that the amount of cricket played on the County circuit was too much.

“For England to improve and the gap to close between domestic and Test cricket those higher up have to do something about a County structure which contains too much cricket,” Vaughan said.

“You only have to watch County cricket to see the enthusiasm levels drained out of the players.

“Jon Lewis, of Gloucestershire, said after the Headingley Test (which England lost to South Africa) that he had played 21 out of 24 days — that simply can’t be right.”

Vaughan also wants four-day games to take place at fortnightly intervals to allow players to recover from one fixture and prepare for the next by working on their technique.

They will also be planned around the Test programme to allow England players a chance to turn out for their county side.

Vaughan adds: “I love the County game. But the structure is not working and I feel sorry for the young guys coming into the England side.”

Vaughan became the England Test captain following the step-down of former skipper Nasser Hussian from the post.

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