The County Championship is back
This month sees the start of the new County Championship season; can anyone stop the Yorkshire juggernaut? The promotion of both Surrey and Lancashire whets the appetite on the strength of this year's Championship. With 2017 heralding a restructure of the game in England, pressure is certainly on teams to deliver this year to ensure they remain among the elite next season. Durham, Hampshire, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire and Yorkshire make up division one and while Yorkshire remain the team to beat the thought that two of those teams will be relegated is hard to imagine. There's no obvious two names, which highlights just how strong our domestic first class competition is.
While division one sparks huge intrigue, what about division two. With only one team being promoted there will be serious pressure on the likes of Sussex, Essex, Worcestershire and Kent as they bid to return to the elite level.
With the ECB making the international players available for the first four rounds of games adds extra spice to both divisions. Essex will be boosted by having the England captain available. Durham will welcome back Ben Stokes, Yorkshire, will add Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow to what is already a formidable batting line up. Stuart Broad will be steaming in for Notts. It'll certainly be an entertaining first few weeks as England players come up against each other and battle for important early season points.
At some stage during the season, across the different formats the likes of Aaron Finch, Chris Gayle, Travis Head, Mahela Jayawardene, Brendon McCullum, Chris Morris, Darren Sammy, Kumar Sangakkara, Ross Taylor and Adam Voges will be making appearances for various counties. This could possibly be one of the strongest and most exciting years of domestic cricket for a long, long time.
Which counties do you think will be popping champagne corks at the end of September?
We are often quick to criticise our domestic structure and while there are very valid arguments about the T20 set up, overall we have a product that works and is delivering ready-made players for international cricket. As Craig White saidin our recent interview with him, the first class competition in England is one of the strongest in the world. So, whoever you support, whoever your local county is, why not get down there this year and catch a few games, because it really does promise to be a season to remember.
And we'd love to hear your domestic stories throughout the summer months. So if you fancy putting pen to paper on games you've seen, players that have stood out, young players to be aware of, things you want to get off your chest, send us an email. We'd love to promote more of the domestic game this summer.