Keaton Jennings argues against reduction in number of County Championship fixtures
On Saturday, Jennings leads Lancashire against Kent in the Royal London Cup final at Trent Bridge at the end of a week in which the Emirates Old Trafford side has not played a game. That works well as preparation for a whiteball game, but it also means that Dane Vilas’ team only played one four-day game in the 53 days from July 29 to September 19.
“In my opinion you can keep the 14 County Championship games and that’s just what Ben Stokes said on social media a few weeks ago,” Jennings said. “But you can take breaks into account so you can play three four-day games and then have a break from the championship. I think my opinion is representative and it certainly reflects what the England captain said.”
“I think 14 matches is a good number and the cricket we play is of good quality, but the problem comes when you have a week off in early April and then another in early September. Including the Royal London Final, we have play 13 days in September, while we played 12 in 17 in April.”
Lancashire’s problems were compounded at the start of the season by the fact that, after having a week off before their schedule began, they played six four-day games at trot, the last of which they lost by an inning to Essex, who just had a week off. But Lancashire is not alone. Leicestershire played seven games in a row between 7 April and 22 May and other counties have identified similar issues with their schedules.
“You can’t just play cricket in April and September, you have to play cricket all season,” said Jennings. “Bowlers have to learn how to take wickets when the sun is out and the fields are level, batters have to figure out how to get runs when it’s happening. The skills are different and we have to keep going all summer.
“We need to make sure we have the skills to adapt to the conditions. You can take breaks into account so that teams can refresh and then come back with a good intensity. I don’t think we should play less, but it season needs to be better structured.”
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the TimeESPNcricinfo, erase, Southport visitor and other publications