A bit less County Championship?

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No bad thing in our eyes. We’re a great believer in scarcity making something more attractive. Take northern hairy-nosed wombats, for example. Phwoar.

Similarly, four-day matches might become something other than sporting wallpaper if there are fewer of them. We had to follow the County Championship as part of our job last year and even we lost track half the time. There’s just too much of it. Fewer matches means greater focus on those that remain.

The big question is how this is achieved. We advocated three divisions only the other week. It’s surely a better option than the ‘play half the teams one-and-three-quarter times’ type solutions that are being put forward as alternatives. Better to keep things comprehensibly straightforward.

Done correctly, this could be an important step towards defeating the multi-coloured Excel monster that is the English domestic season.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Fine in theory. Less great if the extra space is used to shoehorn in more LO.

  2. I’m not a great believer in slippery slope arguments.

    Legalising cannabis would not inexorably lead to a nation of hard-drug abusers. Legalising assisted suicide would not lead to swathes of inheritance-grabbing quasi-murders.

    Yet in this matter I do worry about a slippery slope. I guess it is to do with my worry that first class and test cricket might increasingly be sidelined by the commercial attractions of T20 franchises and other such tournaments.

    I do agree that a three division cc would be a good idea. But I also think that associate nations such as Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands would benefit enormously by being part of such a first class competition and would like to see room made for that within a three division league.

    My fear is that instead we’ll end up with a muddle-some compromise that results in less first class cricket, a diluted county championship and as a result even less meaning to a competition that I truly cherish.

    1. The overuse of the slippery slope argument is downright dangerous. Only last week a man died while considering the exponential growth of warning signs at the top of icy mountains.

    2. Three divisions of seven including additional teams from Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands (but not actually Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands) appears to be the frontrunner. Stockpile your anguish by all means, but it may not be required.

    3. I don’t think Ireland particularly would be keen on that as it might be seen as risking their test aspirations. Unless they entered their A side perhaps.

      I like 3 divisions though. Could you not do three of 6 and then some sort of play off system.

    4. My bad KC – missed your ‘but not actually Ireland, Netherlands…’ etc. That also works in my eyes.

    5. Indeed, Bert, those of us who bring extensive experience of cricket at altitude (heaven knows, Bert, you and I are part of a small but very exclusive society in that regard) have every right to worry about slippery slopes for practical as well as psychological reasons.

      KC, I’ll sleep better now based on your assurances that, on this one occasion, the ECB is actually going to get something right.

      It was quite foolish and unfair of me to worry that the ECB might sound off initially with all the right noises and then make a right pigs ear of things.

    6. You’re a Middlesex fan. Of course you like the slippery slope. Nobody else knows how to bowl on it.

    7. McGrath certainly knew how to bowl on it, to an even greater extent than English batsmen didn’t know how to bat on it.

    8. I’m not sure about these “bring in the associates” arguments – partly because they are likely even less commercially attractive than second division County Cricket (they even struggled to bring in crowds to LO matches); partly because I’m not sure that’s the development route they want to go down, bar Ireland.

      1. They would, presumably, appear in the third division initially anyway. And County Championship decisions are rarely about bringing in the crowds, except in this case by playing fewer matches to allow more time for other stuff.

        Having Irish and Scottish teams appearing is more about finding a way to have three divisions in which everyone plays 12 matches and also about giving international players who don’t have county deals more experience of long format cricket.

    9. Yer Maj, I sympathise with the sentiment, I just wonder who’d be writing the cheques – would the ICC? It’s not a commercially viable proposition, nor is there much interest in the long form of the game being developed in those countries (sadly).

  3. “Key to the changes is an attempt to maximise revenues from T20 cricket”. What a shocker.

    I like the Irish/Scottish/Dutch team angle, as long as they can actually attract and hold onto decent players, which was an issue for the ‘Scotland’ and ‘Netherlands’ teams in the old C&G Trophy.

    1. The main unresolved issue is which two divisions will Lancashire yo-yo between?

  4. Well, losing to “Ireland”, “Scotland” and “The Netherlands” would at least bring some novelty.

    1. On the plus side, I expect a call up to the first XI soon.

      Knowing which way to hold a bat clearly puts me at a higher level than most of these cretins.

      1. And yet there are people saying that additional sides would dilute the quality of county cricket. It’s among the least thought-through arguments we’ve seen in cricket, which has more than its fair share of such things.

    2. Is there not a valid argument that it should, preferably, be a county which wins the county championship? As long as that county’s never Somerset, of course. Ever. 125 years.

    3. Here in Middlesex, we tend to be quite broad minded on that subject, for some reason, Mike.

      Apart from the “but in any case never Somerset” rule. That is sacrosanct, as you say.

  5. I forget now, did Somerset win more trophies when Botham, Richards and Garner filled the team bus with exotic fumes and hard liquor (as we say in USA) or when Giles Clarke took charge and implemented his no drugs, no smoking, not much alcohol rules?

    1. LOL.

      As people of my generation say, if you remember the late 1970s and early 1980s, you weren’t doing it right.

      In short, well forgotten, thesaurusrus.

    2. We’ve racked up the runners-up accolades in recent years though. Being of a more recent generation I don’t remember the headier days, or that Giles Clarke was ever in charge down at Taunton. Reading his wikipedia page, it’s mostly about business. Even the cricket bit is largely about business.

  6. A reduced county championship would also reduce the number of games that cricket writers would feel guilty about not bothering to watch. Think of the benefit this will have to the economy. In fact, let’s abolish all cricket at all levels below test matches. That’s what everyone wants right?

  7. I was about to sign up for Daneel’s new vision of Leicestershire but alas I was out for a second ball duck last night. I fear I may not be the man needed to drive them forward. Or indeed drive at all as that requires getting bat on ball.

    I would favour three divisions with top team promoted and second and third playing off to decide who goes up, with the reverse for the relegations. This way you do still get that build up of momentum and a two pressurised finals per division. And I think that pressure is one of the things that we struggle to replicate at County level. The only downside would be watching Surrey slip into the third division.

  8. Eight minutes ahead of the first test match of the year and I receive the following marketing message by e-mail from “Lord’s – The Home of Cricket”:

    “Just one week till blast off – don’t miss out!…There is just one week to go until the first NatWest T20 Blast fixture at Lord’s this summer…”

    I rest my case in despair!

  9. Ah, Test cricket. Proper cricket, to sound a bit snobbish. And NZ made the wrong call – looking forward to enjoying a day of England making runs while… Oh gosh darn it Lyth.


    2. England attempting to do their bit for A Bit Less Test Cricket by minimising the time they spend batting. Should take no more than six days for NZ to win this series.

    3. You’ve got to laugh though, because if you didn’t you’d have to go on a rampage with a truck load of automatic weapons.

    4. …last three last wicket partnerships…you get my drift…which is more than can be said for batsmen at Lord’s of late…

    5. England’s problem is that there is a malign influence in the dressing room, a man whose personal insecurities result in bizarre behaviour, and whose selfish attitude unsettles the batsmen, preventing them from executing their skillsets effectively. The trouble is that they picked the wrong man.

    1. I got 13, again with the odd educated guess (Bogstandard Comprehensive I might add), but I had the first ten right and wanted the match (sorry, quiz) to end right there and then.

    2. I got 12. I think I guessed Ross Taylor three times before he was the right answer.

    3. 14 out of 15.

      I have proved how superior I am to some people in quizzing about cricket.

      My prize from the last year’s All Out Cricket fantasy game arrived last week.

  10. Partnerships so far of 17, 8, 0, 5 and 161. Extrapolating the series, that has England all out for 10^(10^10), unless bad light caused by the extinction of the sun ends play prematurely.

    1. I typed that into Google but am none the wiser.

      Can you explain for those of us who are not of a mathematical disposition?

    2. The decimal value of the binary number whose nth 1 is followed by n^2 0’s is a sequence that starts:

      1, 5, 161

      When England’s 3rd, 4th and 5th partnerships almost matched these numbers, it was immediately obvious that following this sequence is what they were trying to achieve. Bumble mentioned it on commentary I think. The reason for them wanting to do this is clear when the next few terms are considered:


      Scoring at about a run-a-minute, this tenth wicket partnership would take 1.22 x 10^29 times the current age of the universe. So if this tactic were to work, England would need to up the run rate a bit, or risk running into Heat Death Stopped Play.

    3. This is just common sense.

      But thanks, Bert, for explaining it to those who need such matters set out in excruciating detail.

      It is a shame that the series broke down before you had the chance to explain it. The ECB’s shortcomings exposed in sharp relief.

      If you google the phrase “1, 5, 161 series” the first answer you get is the scorecard from the 3rd Test: South Africa v Australia at Cape Town, Mar 1-5, 2014. 5th on the list is the following:



  11. 10^10 is 10 x 10 x 10 x10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10.

    I’ll leave you to work out the rest of it but it’s a very high score.

  12. The decimal value of the binary number whose nth 1 is followed by n^2 0’s is a sequence that starts:
    1, 5, 161 says Bert

    I wouldn’t have guessed it was binary, I have no idea why you would have knowledge of the sequence in your head and i’m pretty certain you misheard Bumble on the subject.

    01 is decimal 1
    101 is 5
    10100001 is 161

    only if the last 1 is sort of ignored in the equation.

    1. 10100001 is a typical run of scores for the nth batting position in England’s order, so it kinda works.

      Regarding the sequence, I eventually started to kind of understand what was going on, but it hurt my non-mathematically-inclined brain. The pages here helped me:

      I doubt these matters are of particular interest in this property in Glasgow: https://publicaccess.glasgow.gov.uk/online-applications/propertyDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=00P96FEXDT000

  13. More championship cricket is what us oldies want.Let’s get back to the good old days, one division, all play each other twice home and away,3 day games, uncovered wickets, seven hours a day.10.30 to 6.30, and 18 overs an hours absolute minimum,unlimited overseas players, scrap bonus points,3 points a win, and 1 for a draw,34 games a season, that’s a proper competition, still leaves one day a week for 20/50/40 over nonsense.Extend season from March 1st to end of october if the lazy buggers need a few days off.They’ve got it too easy at the moment, and put a freeze on membership prices as well, reduce price for tea,half a crown a cup quite enough.

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