A TWO-DIVISION county championship, the advent of Twenty20 cricket and the availability of overseas players.

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David East said these had been the biggest changes on the playing side during his tenure as chief executive at Essex.

He said: “The two-division structure has probably produced a better standard of cricket in the First Division, although some would argue it would still be better with one division.”

Essex, who finished a disappointing fifth in the LV= County Championship Division Two last season, have yo-yoed between the two divisions since they were introduced in 2000.

Although yet to win what is now known as the FLt20 title, Twenty20 cricket has provided a major financial boost for Essex.

“Twenty20 cricket has been the most radical change with the revenue it has brought in.

“At Essex we identified a market for Twenty20 cricket and have maximised revenue from it. Hopefully this will continue in the future.”

Indeed, Essex have often played to packed houses at Chelmsford, after becoming only the second county in the country to have permanent floodlights installed.

East continued: “The other big change I have seen concerns overseas players.

“It has become increasingly difficult to source high-quality players because national boards or the international programme means players have not got enough time to commit to county cricket.

“When I played everyone had both a world-class batsman and bowler. I remember playing against Hampshire when they had Gordon Greenidge opening the batting and Malcolm Marshall opening the bowling.

“Many of those overseas players stayed with their counties long enough to be awarded a benefit.

“The international landscape has changed so that those players who are available are either coming out of international cricket or retiring from it.”

Indeed, whereas overseas players previously played for the whole season, possibly year after year, counties can now employ three or four in the course of a single summer, including Twenty20 specialists.

“This has been a significant change and has led to an increased burden on the administration side,” added East.

Tomorrow - David East on the legacy he will behind at Essex

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