Michael Vaughan has called for a radical shake-up of the domestic game in England, suggesting that the 18 first-class counties are replaced by ten franchise teams.

In an exclusive interview with Melinda Farrell for the latest edition of Wisden Cricket Monthly, Vaughan outlined his thoughts on the future of the English domestic game, as well as voicing his support for Ben Stokes’ and Brendon McCullum’s leadership ahead of the Test series in India.

“I want to make very clear that I love county supporters,” said Vaughan. “Absolutely adore them. I had 20 years playing county cricket and I loved every one of them, but we have to move with the times. I know I’ll get caned by some county members, but why can’t you have ten prominent franchise teams? Why can’t women’s teams take over the rest of the counties and other grounds and bring them through?

“Would I love the old 18 county system [to remain]? Of course. But sustainability and financing tells me you can’t sustain 18. You could look after ten in a high-performance model.”

After the calendar for the 2024 domestic season in England was announced in November last year, the PCA urged the ECB to rethink the schedule to look after player welfare. The Association labelled the calendar, which sees the County Championship begin on April 5, as “unrelenting” and “in need of reform”.

The current incarnation of the calendar includes a two-month break from first-class fixtures starting in late June, to allow for the T20 Blast and The Hundred to be played. In addition, the women’s domestic calendar will begin a process of transformation this year which will see the eight regional sides handed back to the counties.

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Vaughan was also critical of the state of the red-ball game globally, and called on the ICC to distribute funds around the world to promote Test cricket. “If we genuinely have people at the top level who want to save Test cricket, they can position money around the world and some of the structures around countries to make sure their pathway programmes are in a good state of health,” he said. “I do think they’ve allowed a lot of countries just to go about their business with no money, no structure, no expertise to help them out.”

One aspect of the game which gave Vaughan optimism for the future of Test cricket was the impact of England’s approach to the longest format under Stokes and McCullum.

“I love the way England have been playing,” said Vaughan. “Rather than the rest of the world going, ‘Oh shut up England, stop boasting, you’re not changing the planet’… well, they are actually doing something which could save Test cricket and that’s why I admire Ben and Baz hugely.

“I know you need different styles, but if everyone bought into the logic of going out there to win and not being too concerned about the draw, Test cricket would be in a better place. It’s been frustrating for many years that in this great format we do very little other than go, ‘Oh, we’ll just have a Test Championship, that’s going to solve all the problems’. No, it’s not.”

Vaughan was speaking to Melinda Farrell for the latest issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly. Buy a copy here.