Sunday, May 29, 2022

County cricket: Crisis what crisis?

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Today a County Select XI, made up of promising young England-qualified players, beat the world test champions New Zealand by seven wickets. Yesterday, in New Zealand's second innings, they reduced the visitors to 18-6 at one point.

The match did not have first-class status: these days, because of the lack of warm-up games they are granted, visiting teams like to be able to give more than 11 players a chance to bat or bowl in the games they do play.

This robbed Ben Compton, who completed his fifth century of the season today, of the accolade of being the first player to scoring a thousand first-class runs before the end of May since Graeme Hick in 1988..

But the game seems to have been a serious affair, so victory was a considerable achievement for the young English team.

Something even more impressive happened last summer. Pakistan's tour of England began with a three-match 50-over series, but the England squad was struck down by Covid. The result that was Ben Stokes found himself leading what was effectively an England third or fourth XI.

It didn't matter: England won the series 3-0.

You could conclude from this that the county game in England is in pretty good shape, but for some reason that is never something you hear from the authorities.

The talk is all of reducing the number of first-class counties and often of abolishing all the counties and replacing them with "franchises" based at England's test grounds.

As this would mean the demise of both Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, you will not be surprised to hear I am against this move.

There are problems with domestic cricket in England, chiefly with the way the county championship takes place in the spring and autumn, with high summer given over to one-day cricket. And there is an awful lot of one-day cricket, with the Hundred doing its best to eclipse the counties' Twenty20 competition.

But I find it hard to believe that the problems with the England test team have arisen because we play too much first-class cricket. 

1 comment:

Matt Pennell said...

The teenagers in my local shopping centre mostly talk about video games and drugs when I pass by. Lately, however, they've been speculating about how many Beady Eye songs Liam is going to play at Knebworth and, in light of population growth, which minor counties should now be given First Class status.

The main contenders bandied about are Devon, Wiltshire and Lincolnshire. How typical of the ECB to be so out of touch with modern youth!