posted by John Winn
The County Championship, established in something like its present form in 1890 once again finds itself shoved aside by a brash youngster, this time in the form of the 50 over competition the Royal London One-Day Cup which begins today when the holders Durham take on Northants at Wantage Road. T20 suffered a watery conclusion to its group stages last night with only two games surviving the weather and won't come out to play again until August 12th when it will compete with the start of the grouse shooting season for our attention.For the next 11 days the Royal London Cup will monopolise the county game until Kent face Northants on August 4th followed by a round of six matches beginning on Friday of that week. Confused? Why wouldn't you be for if we take Kent as an example their programme for that week will be
Tuesday 4th, a four day championship v Northants,
Saturday 8th a 50 over game against Lancashire
Saturday 15th T20 quarter final v Lancashire
Three different formats in 11 days and no wonder Alex Hales has taken to twitter to express the opinion that he would be 'amazed if one cricketer in the country enjoys the schedule. Changing formats every week is detrimental to skill levels.' Fellow tweeters Jason Roy and Tim Bresnan support Hales' comments. Before moving on it is worth noting that the T20 began on May 15th so it has taken us 10 weeks to reduce 18 to 8 and it will be a further five weeks before the winners are known.
For those of us who largely confine our county first team watching to championship cricket the pause in action allows us time to study the tables and look ahead to the remaining matches. In Division 1 all teams have played 11 games except Yorkshire who with a game in hand stand 34 points clear and are of course very strong favourites to be the first team since Durham in 2009 to win back to back titles. Warwickshire, Durham and Middlesex who make up the chasing pack are separated by only four points and then there is a gap of twenty four points to Notts. Middlesex have the toughest run in for they must face all three of the teams above them. It is hard to see Yorkshire slipping up and not ridiculous to imagine that the championship might be clinched at Lord's in early September.
It is possible to argue that any two of the bottom five might go down but whilst Hampshire showed admirable fighting qualities to hang on for a draw on Wednesday the fact remains they have won only once this season and probably need to win three of their remaining five to escape. Perhaps the most crucial game at this end of the table will be that at New Road (below) on September 1st when Sussex are the visitors. Somerset are 13 points above Worcestershire and must wait until August 21st before they see more championship action when their opponents will be The Pears, now that could be interesting.
Division Two tomorrow for on a bright and breezy morning I'm off to Harrogate
to see 'Gate take on Yorkshire Academy.
Please note that I have edited Tuesday's posting about tomorrow's Village Cup quarter finals to include the respective leagues for each club, and to spell Sibton correctly!