You played cricket last weekend and you liked it. You’re suddenly interested in the sport. You want to know what the professionals are doing. Here’s our cut-out-and-throw-away guide to the clean, simple, straightforward cricketing fixture list this summer.
First of all the County Championship started. This is in two divisions, but many people treat the two equally, because it’s all first-class cricket. Matches are played over four days and start on pretty much any day of the week. Never try and guess when a match starts. You will always be wrong.
In between County Championship fixtures in this early part of the season, counties play the Friends Provident Trophy. This is a 50-over competition with the counties divided into four groups/leagues. The winners of the four groups go through to semi finals which are played a couple of months later when everyone’s forgotten what 50-over cricket is.
At the same time as all this, the Indian Premier League took place in South Africa. This was a 20 over competition and the team that finished fourth won it.
Also at the same time as this, England played a Test series against the West Indies. This tour was a replacement for a Sri Lankan tour which itself was a replacement for a Zimbabwe tour. It was best of two Tests and England won both matches, reclaiming the trophy they’d lost a few weeks earlier in a best of four Test series.
Next, the County Championship was put on hold in favour of the Twenty20 Cup. The counties play group stages, which take the form of three regional leagues. There are matches pretty much every day and every side plays every other side in their league once. Currently everyone’s taken a break and returned to the County Championship for two fixtures.
After two four day matches, it’s back to Twenty20 for the rest of the league phase. The top teams in these leagues will go through to the quarter finals, at which point the tournament becomes a knock-out. This stage of the tournament is played a month later when everyone’s forgotten what 20 over cricket is.
Alongside all this, the Twenty20 World Cup is being played. We’re not going to tell you anything about this, because we’re getting bored and there’s still a lot to get through.
In July, County Championship matches are separated by Pro40 matches. The Pro40 is a 40-over competition which is so pointless, it was cancelled last year, but it’s limping on through 2009 presumably thanks to some contractual obligation to sponsors. Next year it’s being replaced by P20 which will be a 20-over league. We’re guessing it’ll be a league with a cup finish as opposed to a cup with a league group stage, but who knows/cares.
Internationally, England play the Ashes, which is something everyone can get their head around. After that massive high point, they’ll then play two Twenty20 internationals against the same opposition and then SEVEN one-day internationals which no-one can possibly care about.
What a fucking shambles. What a real, world-class, title-taking shambles.