"Is the game being destroyed by a thoughtlessly punishing calendar, greedy officials, multiple formats and an increasingly mercenary spirit?"
I certainly think there is too much played, which means the standard is lower than it could be. For example, fielding in English County Championship Division 2 is poor, which means batsmen make more runs than they should, and bowlers are not properly rewarded. The solution is simply less cricket.
At Test level the era of the out-and-out fast bowler and all-rounder seem to be over. This is in part thanks to the huge amounts of cricket played, especially back to back Tests which end careers on their own. I would like to see lots less cricket played, or at least the same amount played over a longer time.
"Consider October for proof of how the game's officialdom is reducing it to a crashing bore. The month began with the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy. Three days after the final in South Africa, there was the Challenger Trophy in India and the lucre- and entertainment-fuelled Twenty20 Champions League.
Now look at how the calendar has treated players from Australia: prior to the ongoing seven-match, one-day series against India, they have played in the super-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), the Wisden Trophy, the World Twenty20, the Ashes, two Natwest Series, the Champions Trophy, and the Champions League.
The upshot: five Australian players have been struck down by injury in India in the past 10 days or so. This is excluding fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who played three matches despite a nagging ankle injury. "
too much cricket = lower quality, lots of injuries.
My ideal series would be 1 20/20, 3 ODIs, and 3/4/5 Tests. But this tour would include warm-up games and rest times between matches. If that means only one tour per winter, that's fine.
The quality of overseas players in County cricket says it all, gone are the established internationals, now there are a mixed bag of decent first class players.