In the aftermath of the humbling 3-1 defeat to India, England captain Joe Root sat down and proposed a few changes to the county structure that would help England in the future.
All of his changes made sense, but in a game dominated by the financial implications, and a jam-packed limited-overs schedule squeezed into a few precious months, he failed (or chose not to) to pinpoint the one change that could actually make a difference.
The English first-class season is largely relegated to the extremes of "summer". Last year 8 of the 14 fixtures were completed before the end of May, with the others being shunted to September, with the light fading and the cold nights drawing in.
Root proposed that the wickets were flatter, offering better decks for batsmen to build innings. He suggested that teams be rewarded more for drawing games (currently 5 points) and that spinners would learn to hold down one end before attacking on the final days.
At the moment a team is awarded 16 points for a victory, so there is plenty of motivation for producing a result wicket. With the game being played in April, May and September you often get plenty of rain and plenty of cloud cover, great for seamers who can turn the ball around corners but not helpful for batsmen looking to build long innings or spinners who can grow into the game on days 3 and 4.
In essence, the changes suggested by Root make sense. If you award 8-10 points for draws, then the pressure to produce a results wicket isn't quite as extreme. Producing flatter wickets that deteriorate would help batsmen build big innings, and help spinners learn how to hold down an end before getting some help from the pitch towards the end of the game.
"They need to find ways of making games last four days, giving spinners the opportunity to bowl and learning to bowl at different stages of the game. They need to learn to hold the game in the first innings if it's not spinning and things are not in your favour so they can give the seamers some respite. Then they need to be able to attack and to really deal with that pressure of trying to bowl a side out"
It's easy to suggest these changes and in theory they'd work, but you can't control the rain and you can't control the clouds, regardless of the runs you accumulate at the international level.
Even if you produce flatter wickets, playing the games at the extremes of summer will always lend itself to seamer-friendly conditions that will likely result in low scores and short games. The easiest way to ensure these changes take place is to move part of the County Championship to June, July and August.
Unfortunately, that's just not going to happen. The Blast will run through June, July and August. The Hundred will run through July and August, as will the Royal London cup. You're simply not going to be able to fit the county championship in, and while we love the first-class game, it doesn't bring in the revenue.
Instead, the County Championship will start on the 8th of April and run through to June 3rd, before taking a break and returning briefly for two rounds at the start of July, disappearing again until late August, with the Bob Willis Trophy final running into the first day of October. Good luck preparing the wickets that Root suggests in early April and late September.