Throughout the 1990's and 2000's it was rightfully claimed that the Sheffield Shield was the premier format of First-Class competition. The standard of cricket was high, it was tough to break into a state squad, and many regarded it as the perfect mix of team numbers and games played.
In recent seasons, it has become clearly obvious that the Sheffield Shield has experienced a significant decline in quality. The six state sides no longer have the depth of talent and the likes of James Faulkner (a modest left-arm seamer) can dominate the competition.
With the Sheffield Shield no longer the clear number one, which competition now holds the mantle of the strongest First-Class competition in the world? Have all competitions experienced a decline due to the decreased involvement of international players? Is a strong domestic structure still necessary to produce consistent World Class talent?
Vote away. Apologies if I have a local tournament named incorrectly.