Oh yeah, the County Championship – so where are we with that then?

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The hot Le Creuset pan that is the County Championship has sufficiently cooled that we again feel able to grasp it in our now autumnally frostbitten fingers. But just what are we grasping after all this time? What’s the situation here?

In the early days of Breaking Bad, back in the days when people bought or borrowed DVDs, we unwittingly inserted and viewed disc two of the second or third series before we’d seen the episodes on disc one. It was only upon ejection that we realised our mistake. That experience of basically knowing what was going on while simultaneously feeling like we’d missed some really significant stuff is what the arse-end of the County Championship tends to feel like each year. A bit less crystal meth maybe, but fundamentally the same.

Last time we checked – back when there wasn’t any Test cricket to distract us – Surrey were three points ahead of Hampshire with Yorkshire and Lancashire in third and fourth respectively.

That was only six games in and everyone’s played 12 now, but actually things aren’t wildly different. The big news is that Yorkshire have failed to win any more matches and have slid to sixth.

As you can see, Surrey and Hampshire are still the frontrunners. With just two games to go it’ll be one or the other who win the thing.

If there’s a narrative thread to the season, it remains the same as six games ago. Hampshire have put together a three-man seam attack comprising Mohammad Abbas, Kyle Abbott and Keith Barker, which seems ideally suited to the typical demands of county cricket. Will that be enough or do you need greater breadth or depth of bowling resources to take the County Championship?

So far those three have taken 144 wickets between them. Abbott is the top wicket-taker in the division with 53, Barker is second with 49 and Abbas is sixth with 42. The first two have played every game, while Abbas has played 10. Another 75 wickets have been shared between five other Hampshire bowlers.

To put that in context, Surrey’s top three wicket-takers – Dan Worrall, Jamie Overton and Jordan Clark – have taken just 91 wickets between them with 12 other wicket-takers contributing another 104. Surrey are operating more of a squad system with Worrall and Overton having played eight games and Clark nine. Lancashire are going about things in much the same way as Surrey.

There’s no right or wrong here. It may seem to make more sense to hire, play and pay a smaller number of better players, but it doesn’t give you much security against injury or fatigue.

Of the two sides, Hampshire look to have the easier run in with games against Kent and Warwickshire still to come.

Surrey will play Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The penultimate round of fixtures starts on Tuesday.

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  1. Have the powers that be decided what happens next year and henceforward with regard to the divisional system and the like?

    The implication from the review papers is “no change for 2023” but I have heard rumours that they might tinker.

  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO54859#tab-South%20Zone%202nd

    In other first-class domestic run-in news, anyone know what vagaries of the Indian set-up might have contrived a baffling scorecard like this? South Zone started the final day 645 ahead, but batted on, adding another 94 before feeling safe enough to declare, setting North Zone a tricky 740 to win, which they duly failed to chase, collapsing to 94/9 to lose by a mere 643 runs.

    Are there any extenuating circumstances here that would allay suspicions of syndicate-related shenanigans?

    1. It was a semi final which South had already won by virtue of winning on first innings, so they didn’t need an overall win. With a final still to play, they would not have wanted the South bowlers bowling all day in Tamil Nadu’s September heat, but probably did want to have a go at bowling out the oppo for the practice.

      It’s one of the down sides of having first class matches determined on first innings score if a draw.

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