A committee of cooks designing a horse for broth

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St Lawrence Ground, Kent (Sarah Ansell)

They’ve had a meeting about renovating the entire structure of county cricket. They’ve resolved to repaint one of the bedrooms and maybe replace some of the sealant around the bath.

In 1890, it was suggested that county cricket be divided into first, second and third classes with eight teams in each.

WG Grace wrote of the debate…

“The scheme of classification did not give general satisfaction, and a newspaper warfare was kept up for some time afterwards.”

We never did get first, second and third class cricket and over a hundred years later, these sorts of discussions still pan out much the same. So many people have their say that the status quo or some sort of bizarre half-baked compromise are the only likely outcomes.

First-class, T20 Blast-playing counties cannot countenance any kind of erosion of the standard of cricket they are seen to play. They would rather play a poor standard of first-class cricket than a better standard labelled second-class cricket. They would rather be one of 16 mediocre Twenty20 sides in a sprawling, diluted competition than a less visible part of a more concentrated event.

Just as at international level, there’s no thought to blurring boundaries and giving the have-nots a route to progress on merit. The first-class counties will remain first-class counties and they will also remain the only first-class counties – forever.

The first-class counties are in the club and they aren’t voting anyone else into that club or themselves out of it. Any changes made must therefore be within these parameters.

We long ago grew weary of mooted county cricket reforms. It’s not that what eventuates ultimately fails to match what was proposed – that much is inevitable. It’s that what eventuates is so far removed from what was proposed as to be all but unrelated.

County cricket is camel stew.


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. As a Leicestershire fan, I’m pretending to like football instead these days. And occasionally rugby.

    I’m not sure what standard I’d call Leics’ cricket. Bog, perhaps.

    1. I understand why you might be following football more closely this year- Leicester Nirvana are having a great year in the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League.

      I think the other Leicester team are doing quite well too.

  2. English cricket has benefited, it’s fair to say, from Durham’s elevation to FC status. So the boundaries of “First Class” haven’t quite been set in stone.

    On the other hand, it would probably be logical to strip the remaining university matches of FC status but that doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon (tradition etc).

    What galls me the most is, as noted on the last thread, that since 2nd division cricket isn’t “proper cricket”, they can apparently make do with a “champion” who hasn’t played every other county home and away. That just seems wrong to me. It really can’t be fair that some counties get two chances to play, oh I don’t know, let’s say Leics twice, while others do it just the once. What kind of “league” table is that? Pathetic.

  3. I’m with Bailout on the revised Division 2 modus. It simply doesn’t feel like a proper, fair competition, yet that all-important promotion will hinge on it. That’s a muddle.

    I’m not with KC on the matter of camel stew. I realise he is alluding to the idiom that a camel is a race-horse designed by committee. Even that idiom doesn’t really work if you look at camel racing in Arabia.

    Anyway, camel stew can be a superb dish, unlike the 2017 onwards CC division:

    Indeed, in honour of the new County Championship sponsors, it seems to me that the revisions are so short-sighted…

    …they should have gone to Specsavers.

    (No doubt most self-appointed humorous writers about cricket will try that joke over the next few days – KC seems to have neglected to spot the opportunity).

    1. My only solace is that, by reducing the size of Div 1, they haven’t made the grand prize, the championship itself, so dependent on the whims of the schedule.

      But it does seem bizarre that promotion – which in some ways is arguably more valuable a reward – will do so.

      Perhaps it’s a sign they want three uncommercial teams to drop dead.

    2. Gary Keedy made it and we thought that was probably a decent sign we should pass.

      Writing the camel stew bit, in the back of our mind we suspected someone would take issue. We’re not going to say that we were 100 per cent sure it would be you, but it was certainly high-90s.

      1. A mate of ours scored some camel biltong once (it wasn’t called biltong, but that’s basically what it was).

        It was thoroughly delicious.

  4. Surely after a few Division 2 games there will be nothing left for most of the teams to play for…

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