Mop-up of the day – first-class status and second division performances

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The Champions League is on. We managed to watch half of one innings, but it’s such a stupid, managed tournament, it isn’t really sport in any meaningful sense, so it’s back to county cricket.

First-class but second-rate

In these triple-format days, is first-class status as meaningful as it once was? We ask because Leicestershire have now gone two full years without winning a single match in the County Championship and it reminded us of something we read in WG Grace’s Classic Guide to Cricket.

Apparently, in 1890, it was suggested that county cricket be divided into first, second and third classes with eight teams in each. This struck us as being not at all a bad idea – an extension of the current league system, in effect. It would allow minor counties a route to progress and would also motivate those struggling in the second tier who at present basically find themselves playing for nothing.

At the minute, poorer counties seem aghast that they might lose their first-class status, but perhaps if it were a more fluid thing, it wouldn’t seem such a cataclysmic event. The blow would be further lessened if they were still involved in 20- and 50-over competitions, which could perhaps be expanded so that minor counties could also qualify for them.

If you’re wondering how things panned out in Grace’s day…

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

We imagine it would be much the same outcome today.

Second division but Test class

How’s Cheteshwar Pujara getting on playing for Derbyshire, you ask? Not enormously well. In three innings, Pujara has made 7, 0 and 16.

You wonder how much he’ll really learn without spending meaningful time in the middle. Fortunately, he gets to bat against Leicestershire next week.


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


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  1. Interesting.

    I miss the days when Holland and Scotland used to play in the one day trophies. Then again, if Scotland goes independent, will they still be allowed to play cricket at all? More importantly, will Dougie Brown need a visa to keep coaching the Bears?

    1. They can continue to “use” cricket, but without a formal agreement they will lose all control. So all the power will be in the hands of the ECB, just like now. Alternatively, they could try to join the Euro, in which case all the power will be in the hands of the ECB, just like now.

      (I’m working on getting the Bank of Credit and Commerce International into this joke, but as they were a front for a money-laundering operation which dealt with gangsters and criminals, with fraudulent accounts and corruption throughout, I can’t see how… oh, hold on.)

  2. The big news of the day is that that bastion of responsibility and good sense, Shahid Afridi, has been reappointed as Pakistan’s T20 captain.

    Because of course.

    1. I’m a little disappointed if I’m honest. I was hoping they would stick Salman Butt in a bad wig and some NHS specs and claim they mysteriously found an exciting young player to lead the team into the future.

    2. Did you take the trouble to suggest that to them, Alec? You’ve only yourself to blame.

      We always thought Afridi was a rather good limited overs, actually.

    3. I’ve long thought the phrase “Shahid Afridi – Test Match Opener” basically says all you need to know about Pakistan Cricket.

      For more depth you could ponder Aaqib Javed being sent home from a Carribean tour because Wasim and Waqar were… erm… do your own research – those guys probably have lawyers (and certainly read this blog).

    4. I tried to suggest it to them, your majesty, but the number they gave for the “find us a batsman/spinner/seamer/captain” hotline turned out to be for a Tooting barbershop. They gave me a great deal on a wash, blowdry and short back-and-sides so my time wasn’t totally wasted.

      Also, Ijaz Butt is mightily impressive with those clippers.

  3. Let’s be honest here. If Leicestershire were a major financial institution it would have been nationalised by now, only to be sold off for a fraction its purchase price after a couple of years.

    Maybe it’s time to find an international buyer. We can truss it up like the ECB did to the England team when Stanford came-a-calling and try and pass it off to some middle-eastern businessmen as a potential IPL franchise. Or claim it’s actually an ancient, lost Tennessean city and that they play a strange and bastardised version of baseball and bundle it off as a tax loss to Donald Trump (we can even throw in some of the surrounding countryside to use a a golf course if he wants).

    1. A most depressing set of anagrams also accompanies Leicestershire wherever they go. LESS CHEERIER, IT starts the misery, and even the CHEER IS STERILE. Thus affected, CHEERLESS I TIRE. Other counties move in to pick up the better players, and as we have seen from Daneel, these LEECHES STIR IRE.

      They need to seriously consider changing their name to DETTERTHANBERBYSHIRE.

    2. Great idea Bert. A rebranding exercise we can all get behind. While I think about how we can execute our collective skillsets to expertly deliver synergies across the board within the context of LCCC, I have a few other name suggestions:


    3. Turns out Leicestershire is also an anagram for FUCKING SHAMBLES (with a bit of poetic licence, but it’s warranted).

      When I whinged about this pathetic performance (and particularly the boneheaded declaration that turned a guaranteed draw into a fight to get the same result, which they predictably failed to do) to Charlie Dagnall, he got all upset because apparently getting a result is better for spectators, even when the result is a humiliation.

      He got pissed off when I suggested they drop into the Minor Counties, too. When I asked Leics about it, they never even replied to me. But hey, Scott Styris, eh?

    4. Speaking of Scott Styris, I just turned on the TV to see him in resplendent pink flannels (with due apologies to L.E) fucking the Mumbai Indians to submission by……errrr…bowling rather innocuously.

      I tried my best to end with a flourish, I did.

    5. MS appear to be doing their best to become the Leicestershire of the First Division.

      They won’t succeed, of course, because Northants have been being the Leicestershire of the First Division all season (with aplomb, may I add); but they’re having a bloody good stab at it.

    6. More importantly, Balladeer, we’re doing our best to keep the throdkin-eaters up and subject ourselves to yet more years of Division Two obscurity.

      We were top of the table mid May after beating the throds – but have won jack shit in any format since.

    7. Sacrificing themselves that KC might be happy, and that the throdkin might spread across the land. (The concept, not a single really big one.)

      Firefox’s spellcheck doesn’t recognise “throdkin”. Uncultured programme.

    8. Stop the press: Northants have made an official decision that they’re going to be worse than Leicestershire. Chris Rushworth was unavailable for comment.

    9. When you can’t even hang on to a player as crap as Josh Cobb, even after making him captain, when his dad played for the club for years, the jig really is up.

      Balladeer – Is Northants’ plan to be worse than Leics based on signing all their players?

    10. Learn from the worst and all that.

      The Cricinfo blog had a poll on whether Leics. should be a county today, Daneel. I thought of you. And by “you” I mean “a cyan Christmas tree with arms”.

    11. Sounds like Eckersley and Smith are off too (Middlesex and Notts?). Good job the 2nds have had a good year. They’ll all be in the first team next year, if there is one.

      I can only assume they got Angus Robson paralytically drunk before presenting him with a new contract last month.

    12. To be fair, Ned Eckersley started out with us at Middlesex, so its more of a homecoming than a home leaving.

      Mind you, imagine what would happen if all those who Leicestershire developed and who moved on in the past few years all came home to Leicestershire? I mean, where would you put them all?

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