Making sense of the County Championship 40% of the way through the group stage

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It’s very early May and it basically feels like winter, but we’re already well on the way to establishing the three divisions that will comprise the second phase of this year’s County Championship. (Here’s an explanation of how the Championship and other competitions will work this year.)

18 teams is quite a lot to juggle with. Let’s face it, 18 anything is quite a lot to juggle with – even hacky sacks. So let’s try and simplify things for ourselves. Let’s try and pick out the teams who already look like they stand a good chance of getting into division one in six games’ time.

Group 1

Nobody. Not really.

Okay, clearly a couple of teams will actually go through – that’s the nature of the format – but this isn’t a group where the fat’s very obviously floating to the top yet. (Fat is good. Fat is flavour.)

Warwickshire are top and have won twice as many matches as Durham in second, but they’re also only five points ahead of Essex, who are second from bottom.

For now at least, let’s ignore Group 1.

Group 2

Otherwise known as ‘the Leicestershire group’ in honour of the perennial table-propper-upperers from whom most of the other sides will be hoping to secure two victories.

Leicestershire are indeed bottom ahead of a likely second round tilt at finishing bottom of the third division. Gloucestershire and Somerset are first and second, both with three wins from four. Not coincidentally, those sides boast the top two wicket-takers so far this season. Craig Overton (Somerset, 25 at 14.60) and Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire, 24 at 16.75).

Group 3

This one’s the clearest-cut and things are looking decidedly rosy. Lancashire are correctly top, six points ahead of Yorkshire, who already have a 25-point buffer on Sussex in third. Importantly, 25 points is more than you can score in a single game.

But then large margins can sometimes be borne of small margins – because Yorkshire won their last game by just one run. (The County Championship is such an unstoppably passive thing these days that this eye-catching result seems to have elicited not a single quote from any of the players involved. We know there was a social media boycott over the weekend, but newspapers aren’t considered social media, are they?)

Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson, we’ve already mentioned, while Adam Lyth – about whom we’ve always had strong feelings – has been the standout performer on the incorrect side of the Pennines, making 515 runs at 73.57.

In summary

Some teams are doing better than others.


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  1. You’d have gotten pretty good odds a couple of years ago for Adam Lyth and Haseeb Hameed opening the batting for England together in the first Test of the 2021 Ashes.

    I’m not saying it’s going to happen, mind. Nor am I saying that I would support it happening. But….

  2. Even in these unprecedented times, some things never change, and Leicestershire still suck.

    I wish it was the 90s again, I liked them. Apart from when Warwickshire won.

    1. Trust me, I also experienced a modicum of consternation when that Gloucester lot beat us, having rolled them for 70-odd twice in one match in the BWT last season.

  3. I was not following the IPL and find that it has now been postponed. I now need a new thing to not follow and English county cricket seems a good choice because I find that people who follow it generally do so by not really following it.

    Okay, so I have a question: on what basis are these “points” you speak of given out? Good looks? Virility? I need some details so I can start making up my mind.

    1. Basically you get 16 points for a win and 8 points for either a tie or a draw.

      You also get bonus points for every 50 runs above 200 your team scores in the first 110 overs of their first innings as ‘batting bonus points’; 200-249 runs gets 1 point, 250-299 runs gets 2 points, 300-349 runs gets 3 points, 350-399 runs gets 4 points, and 400+ runs gets 5 points.

      You get bowling bonus points for the amount of wickets you take in the same period of 110 overs; between 3 and 5 wickets gets you 1 bonus point, 6-8 wickets gets you 2 bonus points, and 9-10 wickets gets you 3 bonus points.

      Anything after the first 110 overs of each side’s first innings is irrelevant as far as bonus points go.

      So if Middlesex scored 312-10 off 90 overs against Surrey, Middlesex would get 3 batting bonus points and Surrey would get 3 bowling bonus points. If Surrey then got to 412-5 after 110 overs of their first innings, Middlesex would get 1 bowling bonus point and Surrey would get 5 batting bonus points.

      Assuming Surrey then win, they would get the 16 points for a win. The final result would be Surrey finishing with 24 points, and Middlesex finishing with 4.

      24 points is therefore, as the King mentioned, the most you could get in one game.

      1. Spot on, Adam.

        Alternatively, if Surrey were to score first dig, say, 154 in 55 overs, then Middlesex were to score, hypothetically, 268 in 100.5 overs and then go on to win the match, Surrey would have earned merely three points (being the bowling points only), while Middlesex would have earned 21 points from the match, comprising three bowling points, two batting points and 16 points for the win.

      2. Thank you Adam and Ged – this is very clear.

        I’ve decided to fully support Kent. They are at the bottom of the Group 3 table – there’s no way to go but up.

      3. Very wise choice, Deep C. For the neutral, the county with a 45-year-old who is still making headlines for his fine performances must hold a great deal of allure.

        I’m not entirely sure that your “the only way is up” hypothesis has merit to it as a full-blown theory, but I’d be surprised if this Kent team ends up bottom of the bottom pile at the end of the season.

        Big match build up for you, Deep C, with Kent visiting current near-table-toppers Yorkshire at Headingley (Leeds). Although Yorkshire won last year’s sole encounter, which was at Canterbury, this is what happened last time Kent visited Leeds for four days:

        The only way might be up for Kent, but can Darren Stevens better his last performance at Headingley – a double-ton and a Michelle?

      4. The Kent management could again tell Stevens that his contract will not be renewed – this would undoubtedly infuriate him to further unreasonable accomplishments.

        Are the county matches shown somewhere (for people living in foreign lands)?

      5. At Lord’s, Three Men Formerly of Middlesex Plus Eight Other Men (Gloucestershire) take on 11 Men of Middlesex:

        Not geo-restricted as far as I can tell – I’m two miles away from lord’s and the stream works fine. Top notch coverage from Lord’s at the moment – Mike Atherton guest commentating along with our streaming regulars as I type.

      6. IN OTHER NEWS

        Rob Key!!…

        … and Nasser on commentary at Lord’s as I type. Suspect that Sky has done a deal with our Middlesex streaming people but you can see it all for free on the live stream link I placed above – or here again:


      7. All-star comms for what would perhaps not quite qualify as Match of the Day even without the rain delay.

      8. Bright sunshine now.

        Rain delay timed rather well with my need to break away for a Zoom.

        I don’t understand the phrase “perhaps not quite qualify as Match of the Day”, KC. It’s the match taking place at Lord’s.

        More seriously, the streaming set up for the Middlesex home matches this year (and last) has been very good indeed. Even without the star commentators, several camera angles and consistently high standard of commentators; Adam Collins, Issy Westbury, Matt Floyd.

    2. I have started watching some of the County games in NZ via YouTube/ecb app, so no geo blocking here.

      It is very good in assisting sleep.

  4. I think I might have worked out who Notts will be poaching from us next.

  5. Anyone know why they are playing only eight matches in this round? I find this rather baffling.

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