However, you have to question whether it does its job, and indeed what its job is. If its job is to produce the next generation of England cricketers, then it seems to be a bit below-par. Joe Root and Ben Stokes may look like being around for quite some time, but a slew of slashing batsmen and medium-pace seamers won't keep England near the top of the world for long. If you want to keep the batsmen from becoming jaded and the pacemen bowling fast, then it is probably necessary to cut down on Championship Cricket.
On the other hand, if its job is to keep all the counties running at a profit, then it is obviously failing. Most of the counties subsist on ECB hand-outs, and a fair number of them are failing even to do that. It follows, therefore, that cutting down on matches, even matches that garner limited audiences, will not be an attractive proposition. It's difficult to see any way that the current system can continue to survive and meet both objectives. I have one idea, but it seems counter-intuitive: take Twenty20 away from the counties. Which seems insane, because Twenty20 is pretty much the only format that gets the spectators in.
Now, big money attracts big names, some of whom are lured away from their national teams to compete in lucrative tournaments as freelancers. The ECB, though, despite renaming it the NatWest T20 Blast, are hanging onto the idea of a quaint family night out, and of a fun form of the game. This means that they cannot attract the Shahid Afridis, Chris Gayles and Virat Kohlis of the world to come over and play in it, and without these big overseas names, the tournament isn't a very attractive proposition to overseas broadcasters either.
If you take the T20 Blast away from the counties, though, and turn it over instead to six franchises, then you can start to tickle the interest of these broadcasters. If you take the matches away from Friday nights and instead condense them into a couple of weeks, then you can bring in the big names.
Now the broadcasters should be sniffing. Of course, I still think it is important to keep the counties involved in the process. I'll explain how in a second, but first an idea of what the franchises might look like, with some snazzy nicknames:
My plan would be for everything the league makes to be shared evenly amongst the franchises. (Prize money excluded, of course.) After that, everything the franchises make is shared evenly between the counties. If the new-look T20 Blast netted £18 million of broadcasting fees from around the world, then that would equate to £1 million for each county. As well as sharing the profits, the counties would share the matches. Each franchise would play five home games, which would mean that two counties got to host two games each, while one was left with only one. Ideally, the county with only one match would rotate each year, and not just always be Northants. The only real loss, in my opinion, would be the spectacle that is Finals Day, but that might be a price worth paying.
Would such a Premier League be selling out? Probably, but it would be selling out for the right reasons. You see, if it was only for the crème de la crème of English T20 talent, then it might help to develop long-form players. With less Twenty20 cricket available to him, a young English spinner might be more inclined to toss the ball up and let it drift rather than adopting the Max Waller approach of bowling 65 mph darts with the 'keeper up to the stumps.
It might not be a silver bullet, but I think it would be worth considering.