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County Championship 'conferences'

 



cope1
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May 3, 2018, 12:38 PM

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County Championship 'conferences' Can't Post or Reply Privately

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/43973537

This proposal is to scrap divisions and have three conferences of six, teams playing ten matches each.

After the first ten rounds are completed the teams are split into three more conferences, 1st/2nd in the top conference, 3rd/4th in the middle conference and 5th/6th in the bottom conference. The teams then play once against each of the teams in their new conference with the top conference winner being the champion. The others are playing for position, which will affect how the following season's conferences are decided.

Sussex CEO Rob Andrew (yes, he of rugby fame), who is behind the proposal, says "I'm yet to have anyone fully explain to me the value of promotion and relegation in the County Championship and what it good it does for the game.

I honestly don't know if the division system has achieved its aim of concentrating the best players at the top, giving potential England players a better standard of domestic competition, but I quite like the idea of the conferences, where all teams are nominally in with a chance.


Richard Rundle
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May 3, 2018, 3:22 PM

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Re: [cope1] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Apart from the fact the cricket County Championship is ringfenced to 18 counties and the others are disparagingly termed "Minor Counties", with only one team being admitted in nearly 100 years.


Steelback
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May 3, 2018, 4:04 PM

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Re: [Richard Rundle] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Do any of the Minor Counties want first class status though?



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Armchair Libero
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May 3, 2018, 4:20 PM

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Re: [cope1] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

kneejerk against anything that creates an uneven amount of home and away fixtures as the second stage of this tournament does. agree in principle that a second tier somewhat devalues the idea of a 'first class' cricket.


AndyE
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May 3, 2018, 4:45 PM

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Re: [Armchair Libero] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

The conferences idea is not new. Ian Maclaurin proposed something very similar when he became the first Chairman of the ECB in 1997, but the counties rejected it outright. Why would it be any different now?

Rob Andrew's idea is that the conferences would be redrawn every season. He hasn't explained the full details as yet, but it seems likely that Year 2's Conference A will contain the teams who finish Year 1 placed 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, and 16th, and similarly. That makes it more or less random which counties you'd play each year, and I really can't see the counties going for it.

They might be keener if the conferences were geographical. The relevant counties would be keen to know that fixtures such as Lancashire v Yorkshire, Middlesex v Surrey, Kent v Sussex were guaranteed to happen every year. The counties do fall fairly neatly into three obvious geographical groups, with Leicestershire and Northamptonshire the only two counties who might not like the result. The downside of this, of course, is that the three conferences might not be of equal strength. If you make the groups in the obvious way, the West group looks a bit weak.

On Armchair Libero's objection, I don't think it would arise. When the counties are formed into the second stage groups, every county would be in a group including one county it had already played twice. I'd imagine that those pairs of counties would not meet again, and so each county would play only four games in the second stage. It would be up to the ECB whether or not the results of the previous meetings were carried forward. The difficulty, though, is that the second stage fixtures obviously can't be made until the first stage is complete. How does this work if a county is staging a test match on what has now become a home match day?

The answer to Steelback's question is "not really". Staffordshire and Cornwall are probably the least unlikely of the Minor Counties ever to seek first class status, but I don't seriously expect either thing to happen.


cope1
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May 3, 2018, 10:20 PM

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Re: [AndyE] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

The Times website suggests the counties are behind it. If you follow the American model then yes, you'd do geographic conferences and that's just the way it goes. What you could do is have the three winners joined by the best three aside, which might leave you with as many as four teams from one conference qualifying for any of the three 2nd Stage groups.

My understanding was that they would all play 15 matches, but as you say, they could easily enough take forward the results from the matches against the team in the same conference. That would leave it a bit uneven as you'd play that team twice, and all others once. On the other hand, while I prefer to have teams play an even number of home and away games, I can accept a minor differential if it can be justified. In this model, the three higher finishers in each new conference (e.g. the three stage 1 winners in the top conference) would play 3/2 while the the others would play 2/3.

Re: Richard's comment about 'minor counties', I don't see why it's disparaging. Nowadays there'd be some some impressively deceptive title to avoid suggesting there was any kind of hierarchy at all, but I have no problem with Herts (my local county) being called a Minor County. There is no real interest in moving up. The minor counties are more like representative teams than clubs. They only play 6 league games each season and, from the little experience I have of it, they face the same sort of problems as teams in the FA Inter-League Cup in terms of players pulling out late, etc. I may be wrong on that point, but I'm certain they're nowhere near able to step up.


AndyE
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May 4, 2018, 12:31 AM

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Re: [cope1] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

My main reason for supposing fourteen matches was that that is the number they play now. Once the 100 ball nonsense is in existence as well as the existing competitions, it seems unlikely that there will be any room for an extra one.

The uneven-ness which you mention is a fair point, but you could get around it by carrying forward half the points from the two matches against the county you've already played. That would mean that those two matches carried the same weight as one of the four "new" matches, and the league tables for the second stage would be based on 2 home games and 2 away games.

Minor Counties do indeed have the sorts of issues that you describe. Most Minor County players are paid for playing league cricket on Saturdays, and unsurprisingly that is what they tend to prioritise. In theory, a player who makes himself unavailable for a Minor County game can be excluded from league cricket on the Saturday before a Sunday Minor County game, but that has never been enforced and never will be. Minor Counties cannot afford to fall out with the leading clubs in their areas; it's happened a few times and the Minor County has always had to come crawling back.

Realistically, none of us will be around to see a new first class county appear. It's more likely - although still rather improbable - that one or two of the existing eighteen first class counties will turn Minor. This has happened once in the past: Cambridgeshire were considered Major until 1871, but the club went bust in 1869 - for the last two seasons the team was privately funded - and when it was reformed it went Minor.

Worcestershire sat out the 1919 County Championship because they couldn't afford to engage any professionals. There was no Minor Counties Championship that year, but there was newspaper talk that they might go Minor for the following year. In the event they did return to the County Championship in 1920, but with a desperately weak all-amateur team.


leeroy
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May 5, 2018, 9:15 AM

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Re: [AndyE] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Have three conferences along the lines of the old T20 groups for fixture purposes only;

NORTH
Derbyshire
Durham
Lancashire
Leicestershire
Nottinghamshire
Yorkshire

WALES/WEST/MIDLANDS
Glamorgan
Gloucestershire
Northamptonshire
Somerset
Warwickshire
Worcestershire

SOUTH
Essex
Hampshire
Kent
Middlesex
Surrey
Sussex

Play each other in fixture conference home and away every season - 10 matches.

Play 2 teams from each of the other conferences - 1 home, 1 away from each - on a rotation basis over a 6 year cycle (to allow for reverse of venues).

For example;
Year 1
Derbyshire play 'their' 5 h&a - 10 matches (every season). Also, say, Glam at home & Glos away. Plus Essex at home & Hants away - total 14 matches as at present.

Year 2
Play the other 4 (Glam, Glos, Essex & Hants) at reverse venues or a new set of 4 and wait until year 4 to reverse venues of year 1 opponents.

Compile all results into 1 table with team at the top as winner.

This will enable all fixtures to be compiled prior to the season and mean that all counties will meet all other counties over a 3/6 year period.


cope1
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May 5, 2018, 8:12 PM

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Re: [leeroy] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

That would work, and could be tweaked to ensure an even standard of oppo for all teams by deciding the fixtures by final standing, or maybe be part geographical and part standings. There is ample precedent for unbalanced scheduling in county cricket. Prior to the switch from 3-day to 4-day matches the single division championship saw teams playing 22 matches against 17 opponents. Each opponent was played once and five were played a second time. Can't remember the formula use to determine it though.

That's actually a very minor example. Before WWII some counties played over 40 matches with others playing little more than half that in the same season. Percentages were used to determine the standings, but clearly the schedule was the complete opposite of 'balanced'.

Another part of the proposal - depending on which report you read - is a return of the 'FA Cup style' knockout tournament which includes minor counties. I'd like to see that, just because I like the idea of cup runs. At present a 'cup run' is qualifying for the knockout stages in the limited overs comps.


Tykeoldboy
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May 5, 2018, 9:57 PM

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Re: [cope1] County Championship 'conferences' [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I used to enjoy watching the Gillette Cup and there would be the occasional upset. It was also a good pay day for any minor county with a home fixture. If brought back it would have to be a 50 over match instead of the old 60 overs and playing the matches over a weekend instead of a Wednesday would make for larger crowds.

 
 


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