Good stories and players abound as county cricket seizes rare spotlight | Andy Bull


From Stevens to Hameed, the County Championship has made the most of a brief hiatus in other forms of the game

Forewarned about the cruelty of April, I was entirely unprepared for the viciousness of May. At times these past few weeks have felt like an elaborate skit, a running bait-and-switch in which we were repeatedly lured outdoors by the promise of sunshine and then hit by a hailstorm when we’d made it halfway around the corner. I’ve spent most of it waiting, for the clouds to go, for the rain to stop, for the summer to come, for lockdown to lift, for this sense of listlessness to shift. In the meantime the County Championship has been a welcome distraction, one consolation of a rather damp and miserable spring.

The championship often feels like something that goes on in the background of summer. When the Test matches are on, it’s a distant birdsong. But it has come into its own these past few weeks. This seems to have happened almost by accident. In his history of the competition, Summer’s Crown, Stephen Chalke compared it to the British constitution. “It emerged in its own haphazard way, and it survived and adapted to the consequences.” The format has “never seemed satisfactory for long, and it has seldom stood on its own feet financially”, Chalke writes. It has lasted 131 years, and has had almost as many iterations.

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Written by Andy Bull
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