A new championship format, the return of crowds and finally the launch of the Hundred … six things to watch out for in the new cricket season
- A new championship cricket format will see conference-style competition in 2021
- Promotion and relegation have also disappeared, with the aim of winning more cricket
- The much-discussed ECB Hundred tournament will finally make its debut this season
After a year like no other, the 2021 cricket season kicks off with a sense of optimism about the return of old things and the arrival of new things.
Significant structural changes in the domestic game bring both anticipation and intrigue, with the aim of producing more entertaining cricket, something all fans can get behind.
Speaking of fans, the roadmap for returning people to cricket fields is not only a welcome sight for all after extremely difficult times, but also a lifeline for the game itself with the promise of returning revenues.
Here are six things to watch out for when the first painted cork ball rips the willow hiss …
A full Hampshire Bowl cricket clubs will welcome the return of the public this season from May
1. New championship format
Championship Cricket will be played in a conference style in 2021, with three groups of six each playing 10 matches before splitting into divisions – depending on finishing position – for an additional four rounds. Points are carried over and the Division One team that builds the most at the end of the season is crowned the champions. They will also have the chance to claim the Bob Willis Trophy in a showpiece against runners-up at Lord’s.
2. More for a tie
The changes to the structure – made primarily to maintain flexibility should a Covid development interrupt the season – take promotion and relegation out of the equation. Without such pressure, captains tend to get more creative in the pursuit of victories. But that will be offset by a significant increase in the number of points for a draw to eight. It is hoped that by placing more value on match saving, better throws, wrinkle occupation and the volume of spin bowling will be promoted.
3. Oldie but goldie
Darren Stevens will become the oldest player in the championship in more than a quarter of a century when he first appears for Kent. Stevens will turn 45 at the end of this month and will surpass John Emburey, who was 44 years and nine months when he dropped out in 1997. Another former English off-spinner in Eddie Hemmings was the last 45-year-old to play regularly. County Championship cricket, and finally quits with Sussex at 46.
At the age of 45, Darren Stevens becomes the oldest player in the championship in more than 25 years
4. Crowd is back
Last summer, games were played behind closed doors, apart from a select few government ‘pilot events’, so the return of fans is welcome, not least for the game’s revenue. The lack of this in 2020 has contributed to combined provincial losses of over £ 100 million. According to the ECB’s roadmap to break through the restrictions of the pandemic, 25 percent capacity visits will be allowed from 17 May, and 50 percent from 21 June.
5. A win in Nottinghamshire
It has now been three years since Nottinghamshire last tasted victory in a competitive first-class match, the succession of 26 scoreless games after crushing Essex with 301 points in June 2018. During that time, the club made the knockout stages of each. of five white ball tournaments held – including a Twenty20 Blast win last year on two trips to the final day at Edgbaston. However, a club with such enviable resources and former England coach Peter Moores should do better.
6. The hundred
It is the tournament on which the ECB mortgaged its future. Eight new teams in the city, each with three foreign players, will compete at the height of summer in a competition designed to draw new audiences to the sport. The inaugural 100-ball-a-side season will run for a month from July 21. Traditionals have backed out to the prospect, not least because it has completely marginalized the 50-over tournament, whose final will be played in Trent on Thursday. Bridge.
The ECB’s highly controversial Hundred tournament will finally kick off this season