Counting on the Counties
So Adil Rashid and Alex Hales have become the first big name England players to close the door on the County Championship. While it’s easy to understand their individual decisions, having both been shunted around by the England team management for a while, and knowing that the money is to be had in franchise white-ball cricket, it doesn’t make their decisions any less significant.
Anyone who wants to see England succeed in Test cricket knows that we need a strong county game, with matches of four if not five days. You know this, I know this.
But I’m part of the problem because I don’t attend county matches. Cricket is a game that takes time, and that’s something that in the modern world many people just don’t have. The idea of a 35 hour working week is laughable to most of us and time spent in a mostly-empty cricket ground is not time efficiently spent. You can’t multitask; you can’t just give it an afternoon’s attention; April is freezing, and so, often, is May.
Of course we’re all wedded to the idea of counties: they’re a historic part of our cricketing heritage. First World War army divisions were made along county lines and so were police and fire services and then... we wrote them on envelopes at the end of an address. But now you don’t need to anymore.
It’s sad but I think it’s true: the county as an entity is fading out. No other test playing nation has quite the same first class domestic set up as we do, where our national talent is teased out into so many competing sides.
Australia has six teams; India, with its population of 1.3 BILLION has 28 teams!
I’m a romantic, and in my heart I want the county structure to stay, but if the police have had to combine county forces and the Royal Mail so ‘no need’, I’m not sure how long the county championship can hold out.