The multi-coloured Excel monster that is the English domestic season

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Each year, The Cricketer produces a wall chart detailing all of the summer fixtures. It works well as a visual representation of the way the English domestic game is organised. White space is in short supply. It is as much an assault on the senses as a paper wall chart can be.

The Frankenstein committee

If you’ve ever had the misfortune to work with other human beings, you may have had to endure the shared spreadsheet. Get enough people involved in one Excel document and it can quickly spiral into a multi-coloured monster with a life of its own. Many have created it, but no-one truly understands it – let alone controls it.

This particular document stretches from Cambridge MCCU v Northamptonshire at Fenner’s (University match) on April 2nd to Surrey v Northamptonshire in County Championship Division 2 on September 22nd. Between those dates, it does all kinds of crazy shit, little of which makes sense.

Mind them windows

There’s a lot of talk about making a window for ‘an IPL-style T20 league’ (or ‘a Twenty20 league’ as we like to refer to such things). There’s also a conflicting desire to have County Championship cricket throughout the season. Our advice is simple. Pick one.

As it stands, county cricket favours not windows but cracks in the brickwork. They may allow light to entire, in the same way as a window, but they also compromise the integrity of the structure.

Nothing is clear. No competition takes precedence. Everything is diminished as a result.

Disconnect them windows

If you want to know why the one-day final is no longer the showpiece it once was, it’s because 90 per cent of the competition takes place in the last week of July and the first week of August while the final takes place on the 15th of September. The final is a fortnight after the semi-finals, which are 10 days after the quarter finals.

You all know how much we love the word ‘momentum’. This is not it.

The T20 blast is the same. Matches take place on Fridays for most of the season, but there is then a three-week gap before the quarter finals and then another fortnight before the final. The messiest part of the season also coincides with when the County Championship is in the balance, but that competition has to slot in between the two short format tournaments, seemingly at random.


Look at this schedule and what do you see, time and time again, in every single one of the competitions?

Excitement doesn’t build, like pressure in a bladder. It is pissed away, like the contents of a bladder.


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    1. I thought this was just a demand – delighted to see it’s actual news! The next step in the return of KP?

  1. Pretty sure Paul Downton stood down the second we clicked ‘publish’ on this piece.

    More hard work frittered away thanks to his incompetent decision-making. Thanks a stack, Paul.

    1. He’s out, but does the ECB have the courage to do what many of us have been calling for for a long time, and roll him in a huge vat of egg yolks and flour while singing Get Out And Don’t Come Back to the tune of The Nutcracker Suite?

    2. So…
      Tom Harrison
      Colin Graves
      Giles Clarke
      And whoever the new directer of Cricket is.

      What do they do? It’s confusing.

    3. Tom Harrison Ford
      Giles Clarke Gable
      Colin Graves’ name just isn’t working hard enough in the faded Hollywood actor stakes.

    4. That sounds a little meaner than I’d intended — I’m not necessarily glad to see Downton unemployed, but that ‘in business’ thing that KC has mentioned before has always been my first association with him, and I’ve always thought it wasn’t really the sort of thing a person managing director-ing an international cricket team should be saying.

  2. there are a few things which work well for IPL which is nothing but an domesticT20 league masquerading as a world class league
    1) national players playing along with domestic players
    2) no overlap between matches and all matches are televised
    3) summer holidays. (It used to be unthinkable to play daytime cricket in extreme heat of Indian summer. T20s played across evening/night solved that problem very nicely)

    england seem to have school holidays from last 2 weeks of July till end of Aug. so that should be the appropriate time to play T20 championship. important thing is the national team should be given a break from international cricket during that time

    my suggestion play current 18 teamT20/50 overs leagues on Fri/sat/sun from April to July. then play a championship T20 from late July till August end between select few teams (no more than 9 teams)

    1. No England matches in July and August?

      Brilliant plan. Who wants to watch England play, anyway?

      The T20 championship should be played, as it is now, in India.

      All it does now in England is bugger up the County Championship.

      Get rid of any stupid windows. I want first class cricket being played in the middle of the summer.

      Reserve Fridays for T20/whatever the one-day thing is, play the CC games around them, finishing on Sundays.

  3. The problem is that any solution is liable to enrage as many (if not more) people as it delights.

    Franchise system for T20? Will likely screw over the smaller counties that have the greatest need of the money the format brings in.

    Scale back 50 over cricket? Will probably kill England’s chances of ever winning the World Cup.

    3 tier County Championship? Will reduce the number of counties that get to beat up Leicestershire and Surrey for shits and giggles.

    Any of these (or all of them) could be a solution (I like the idea of a 3 tier championship of 6 counties each and 1 team promoted/relegated a season) but muddling along as we were is how it will stay until it is too late.

  4. Here’s my proposal: Three-division county championship, six teams each. First-class matches Wednesday through Saturday, every week from Wednesday, April 22nd through Saturday, August 15th (fifteen weeks; play every team in the division three times). Make it so you don’t have to look up when your county is playing, you can just think “oh, it’s Friday, there’s a county game.” Fifty-over cricket on Sundays, so that it’s not during the working week and people can (theoretically) come out and watch it. T20 competition in the evenings in August/September, concluding after the end of the Test summer so that international players can participate towards the business end of the competition.

    I haven’t thought this through a lot, so there’s probably some glaring errors that I’m missing, but it seems sensible enough to me.

    1. Why do they have to play three times? We’ve always thought the great advantage of a three tier league would be only 10 Championship fixtures.

  5. If 3 divisions is the way forward I would very much like to see following 2 improvements to that
    1) invite Ireland Netherland and Scotland XI to the top tier
    2) include top minor counties and second cities from major counties (Sheffield Liverpool Chester Warrington etc) in the bottom tier

    1. A sort of European first-class league? I could definitely get behind that, although Middlesex would suddenly find itself deprived of all its Ireland players.

    2. I’d like to see Ireland too, as they have no first class set-up of their own, and it doesn’t look like happening for some time. Be good for the Scots and the Dutch too.

  6. In your FACE, Cambridge University!

    Now THAT’s a first class win for Leicestershire.

  7. I pity the poor bastards who have to edit and design that calendar. Think of the subs, KC, think of the subs.

  8. In non-cricket-related commentary- excellent use of the term ‘bladder’. Really brightened my day. I heartily endorse it’s use in other articles and KC related pieces.

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