You can watch (and rewatch) the whole of the Bob Willis Trophy final for free – including rain delays

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The Bob Willis Trophy final between Somerset and Essex is taking place this week. There were only 44 overs yesterday, but that’s okay because it’s a five-day game.

The big news is that you can watch it. Sky Sports, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the BBC are all streaming it for free. Play starts at 10.30am each day.

Sky have actually left the whole day’s play on their YouTube channel, so you can watch it in its entirety if you wish – including when they cut to this image for hours on end for the rain delays:

The Bob Willis Trophy has met with a mixed response.

Most people seem to accept it was a pretty good effort to run some sort of first-class competition given the circumstances, but we’ve definitely detected a bit of “oh no, what if they decide this is a great format” from some.

We are in favour of fewer first-class matches because we’ve always felt the usual frequency actually diminishes the County Championship.

We also like having some sort of finale between the top teams. It’s just a one-off final this year, but a small play-off league could be an alternative.

So we think that something similar to this would be okay.

Our only real gripe with the Bob Willis Trophy’s conference-based format is that in having ‘the strongest two teams’ going to a final when there are three leagues, what you’re essentially doing is punishing the strongest league (the North Group).

Maybe they could mix up the groups and do a seedings thing so that everyone could be in with an equal chance of thrashing Surrey.

15 comments

  1. Its good that they have managed to get a 1st class competition in this season.
    I think they should have ranked the team from points gained from 1st to 18th and then have 3rd v 4th for a 3rd place playoff. 5th v 6th for a 5th place playoff and so on so everyone could have a ranking.
    It would give Surrey a minute chance to not come last.

  2. Yep I’m actually quite keen on this setup. Only having two teams in the knockouts was obviously due to the reduced timeframe and I wouldn’t expect it to happen again. Also I’d imagine that in future the conferences will be seeded as you say.

    I would miss the drama of promotion and relegation, but at the same time I’m a Durham supporter so that’s been mostly academic for a while anyways.

    1. They should call it the Cricket World Series. But I don’t think I can bear to watch Somerset lose again, especially to bloody Essex.

      Maybe I’ve lived here in these United (hah!) States too long, watching their sportsball, but there’s something to be said for the excitement of playoffs, so long as you don’t make it too easy for crappy teams to scrape in and fluke knockouts of better ones.

      (speaking of, there’s still a miniscule chance that the Mariners can get into the baseball ones at the last and end the longest playoff drought in major US men’s sport – not that it’ll happen – but I’m quietly hopeful that it the next few years they might get good, lots of exciting young talent and a real team spirit forming)

      Anything to keep my mind from this sodding election, wildfires and plague, anyway.

  3. I have been watching the last few minutes of today’s play on the BBC sports website and I must say the coverage is just fine.

    Not quite modern Sky production standards but significantly better than the old one or two camera stuff that was the norm when i were a lad.

    1. Hear, hear. Although there seems to be a problem with the scorecard. It shows Somerset are losing in a cup final. Surely some mistake?

  4. This ‘Cook’ lad looks like he might be a decent backup for Sibley, although he scores a bit quickly (these youngsters, eh?)…

    1. The lad Lammonby impressed me. Only two batsmen looked properly comfortable while I was watching, the other being Cook. His ton is far from a one-off this season too. We’ll eagerly hope that the season is not a one-off for him.

      Too many Cooks…ha-ha. What a wonderful world that would be.

      1. Sam Cook has 99 first-class wickets at 23.52, don’t think Essex would mind a spare copy of him either! Sadly Simon Cook has retired from duty with Kent so prospects of three Cooks in a team seem remote.

        I consider it a great opportunity missed that neither County side featuring a Ryan Sidebottom made a move for the other Ryan Sidebottom.

  5. The 120 over limit for the first innings did make the last few overs of Essex’s innings a grind to watch today, which is sadly the only bit I had time to watch … lots of men on the boundary, and even in the last few overs – admittedly with only a few wickets remaining – Essex were only looking for 2-3 runs an over.

    I could live with the image quality, rather reminded me of the county games that used to get broadcast occasionally on terrestrial back in the late 80s/early 90s, but the lack of sound from the pitch (don’t think they had an effects mic installed for some reason?) made a surprising difference. Far more satisfying to watch a shot if you can also hear the sound of it.

  6. I don’t get the 120 over limit, or the ‘highest first innings wins the cup’ rule. Too much fussing. What would have been wrong with sharing the trophy? Or just deciding it based on which team can drink the most cider in the Lord’s Tavern?

    1. Cider? Would need to take place over a range of drinks to ensure a level playing field.

      Maybe alternate between Prosseco-based cocktails and Tribute (‘It’s not the greatest beer in the world, it’s just a tribute’) for the first few, then move onto Scrumpy vs Lambrini until only one team is still able to physically lift the trophy.

      Or just stop at 10pm, whichever’s earliest.

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