The County Cricket Report
There has been some excellent county cricket action this week with some thrilling matches taking place in England and Wales. While the media often question the validity of county cricket, but the game continues to thrive, with the eighteen first class sides constantly producing matches that keep fans on the edge of their seats. T20 cricket has definitely increased popularity and this year, NatWest will take up the reigns as the 2014 NatWest T20 blast will replace the Friends Life T20.
The 18 first class counties compete in three summer competitions:
The LV= County Championship
This competition dates back as far as 1889 and is steeped in history. All County Championship matches take place over four days and points are awarded depending on the result with bonus points added for various batting and bowling targets that are hit. Teams receive 16 points for a win, 8 for a tie, 5 for a draw and 0 for a loss. The sides will then collect between 1 and 5 bonus points depending upon their batting performance and between 1 and 3 for bowling successes.
There have been two divisions since 2000 with Durham the reigning champions and Lancashire the Division 2 winners which means they are promoted to the top league for the 2014 season.
The NatWest T20 Blast
Beginning on 16 May 2014, the NatWest T20 Blast will replace the long-standing Friends Life t20. The Finals Day will take place at Edgbaston on 23 August. This is arguably the most popular of the three main county competitions, which is largely down to the exciting format that’s utilised.
The 18 teams are divided into two equal groups, and a round robin tournament then takes place. This ensures that all sides will face each other at least once, with six playing both home and away. In each of the two groups, the top four sides will progress to a knockout stage. The Finals Day is then held at Edgbaston to crown the T20 champion. In 2013, the Northamptonshire Steelbacks were victorious.
The Royal London One-Day Cup
The Royal London One-Day Cup replaces the ECB 40 as of 2014. The number of overs has been increased from 40 to 50 which will make the competition very similar to one day international cricket. Like the T20, this event has two groups of nine teams and the top four sides in each group go through to the quarter final stage. The first fixtures are due to take place on 26th July with the final on 20th September at Lords.
While county cricket definitely isn’t perfect, 2014 looks like being a very positive year for the sport. Two of the three major tournaments are being revamped and cricket fans look set for a very exciting summer.