County Championship: Who can succeed Essex as red-ball champions?

The six skippers hoping to get their hands on silverware (from left): Dane Vilas, Will Rhodes, Steven Mullaney, James Vince, Steve Patterson, Tom Abell
The six skippers hoping to get their hands on silverware (from left): Dane Vilas, Will Rhodes, Steven Mullaney, James Vince, Steve Patterson and Tom Abell
Dates: 30 August – 24 September
Coverage: Radio & text commentary on all matches on the BBC Sport website & app plus commentary of selected matches also on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

The 2021 English domestic cricket season is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry.

Even if at times, players, officials, supporters and reporters can be forgiven for almost failing to remember what day it is and what form of the game they are playing.

After two months of County Championship cricket, the middle three months of the summer have been an amalgam of T20 Blast, a little more red ball, The Hundred and the One-Day Cup.

But now the T20 Blast quarter-finals are over and done with, aside from Finals Day at Edgbaston on 18 September, it is back to Championship duty again.

Four more rounds of fixtures to go in three revised divisions – and the top two in Division One will then meet at Lord’s in the Bob Willis Trophy final on 28 September.

This is all part of a schedule drawn up by the England and Wales Cricket Board at a time when sport was still in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic – and an end-of-season review was promised even before it began in April.

But for the final month of the season, red-ball cricket now has centre stage again.

Not just one, but two trophies to play for: The County Championship crown and the Bob Willis Trophy. The only certainty is that Essex, holders of both, will not win either of them, having only made it into Division Two.

But two of them – T20 Blast contenders Hampshire and Somerset – go into this final leg of the season still capable of winning three trophies.

Adam Lyth
Yorkshire opener Adam Lyth was in the last Tykes title-winning side in 2015

Division One

Following the mid-season split, after a break of 47 days, the three six-team Championship groups of early summer have been reshuffled into three reconstructed six-team divisions.

The top two teams in each group – Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire from Group One, Somerset and Hampshire from Group Two, Lancashire and Yorkshire from Group Three – have gone into a freshly formed Division One.

Each team will play four games against the sides they have not already played from the earlier groups. But they all start off with half the points carried forward from the two earlier games they played against the team they qualified with.

Warwickshire will start off with the highest total.

Although they finished runners-up in their group to Nottinghamshire, they won both games against Notts – a total of 42 points to Notts’ 10. So they will carry 21 forward and Notts five.

From Group Two, Somerset carry forward 18.5 and Hampshire 8.5.

From Group Three, Lancashire carry forward 16.5 and Yorkshire 4.5.

Keith Barker celebrates a wicket for Hampshire against Surrey
Hampshire all-rounder Keith Barker was a County Championship winner with Warwickshire in 2012

The lower divisions

The remaining 12 teams that do not go into Division One move into Divisions Two and Three.

All the teams will also play another four matches – but, in their case, purely for love and pride.

In Division Two, reigning champions Essex are joined by Durham, Gloucestershire, Surrey, Northamptonshire and Glamorgan.

Although there has already been a casualty, following Saturday’s Covid-related cancellation of the Durham-Surrey opening game.

In Division Three, the six sides are Worcestershire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Kent and Sussex.

A chance for the only two so far winless teams, Derbyshire and T20 Blast Finals Day contestants Kent, to both claim their first Championship victory of the summer.

Individual honours

Although there are no trophies and medals on offer in Divisions Two and Three, there are still individual honours to target.

Durham’s David Bedingham, currently leading the race to be first to 1,000 runs, and Chris Rushworth, just one behind Nottinghamshire’s Luke Fletcher as leading wicket taker, will both be personally inconvenienced by the postponement of the Surrey game.

Durham's David Bedingham will be relieved to get his whites on again and return to red-ball cricket after the disappointment of two cup-final ducks and defeats in three days for Durham and Birmingham Phoenix
Durham’s David Bedingham will be relieved to get his whites on again and return to red-ball cricket after the disappointment of two cup-final ducks and defeats in three days for Durham and Birmingham Phoenix

First to 1,000 runs:

Division One: Ian Holland (Hampshire) 671, Haseeb Hameed (Notts) 642, Tom Abell (Somerset) 635, Adam Lyth (Yorkshire) 634, Ben Slater (Notts) 633, Alex Davies (Lancashire) 579, Keaton Jennings (Lancashire) 577, Rob Yates (Warwickshire) 576, Harry Brook (Yorkshire) 576, Steven Mullaney (Notts) 565, Josh Bohannon (Lancashire) 559, Sam Hain (Warwickshire) 515, Steven Davies (Somerset) 503.

Division Two: David Bedingham (Durham) 945, Kiran Carlson (Glamorgan) 790, Ricardo Vasconcelos (Northants) 716, Hashim Amla (Surrey) 687, Rory Burns (Surrey) 617, James Bracey (Gloucestershire) 613, David Lloyd (Glamorgan) 607, Rob Keogh (Northants) 607, Tom Westley (Essex) 574, Ollie Pope (Surrey) 555, Chris Cooke (Glamorgan 544), Alex Lees (Durham) 521.

Division Three: Jake Libby (Worcestershire) 798, Tom Haines (Sussex) 768, Matt Critchley (Derbyshire) 721, Sam Robson (Middlesex) 659, Marcus Harris (Leicestershire) 655, Lewis Hill (Leicestershire) 639, Ben Brown (Sussex) 584, Ed Barnard (Worcestershire) 580, Harry Swindells (Leicestershire) 544, Ollie Robinson (Kent) 536, Wayne Madsen (Derbyshire) 514.

Most wickets:

Division One: Luke Fletcher (Notts) 47, Kyle Abbott (Hampshire) 43, Craig Overton (Somerset) 37, Dane Paterson (Notts) 29, Josh Davey (Somerset) 28, Liam Norwell (Warwickshire) 27, Mohammad Abbas (Hampshire), Tom Bailey (Lancashire) 26, Jordan Thompson (Yorkshire) 26, Steve Patterson (Yorkshire) 26, Brad Wheal (Hampshire) 25.

Division Two: Chris Rushworth (Durham) 46, Simon Harmer (Essex) 39, Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire) 36, Brydon Carse (Durham) 34, Sam Cook (Essex) 34, Ben Raine (Durham) 33, Ben Sanderson (Northants) 31, Michael Hogan (Glamorgan) 28, David Payne (Gloucestershire) 25, Jordan Clark (Surrey) 25.

Division Three: Tim Murtagh (Middlesex) 37, Ethan Bamber (Middlesex) 36, Jack Carson (Sussex) 34, Ollie Robinson (Sussex) 33, Chris Wright (Leicestershire) 32, Callum Parkinson (Leicestershire) 32, Darren Stevens (Kent) 28, Dan Worrall (Gloucestershire) 27.

How the tables looked

Group One tableGroup Two tableGroup Three table

And how they will look on Monday morning

Points carried forward:

Division One: Warwickshire 21, Somerset 18.5, Lancashire 16.5, Hampshire 8.5, Nottinghamshire 5, Yorkshire 4.5.

Division Two: Essex 19, Northants 16, Surrey 13, Gloucestershire 12, Glamorgan 11.5, Durham 4.

Division Three: Worcestershire 18.5, Middlesex 13, Sussex 12, Leicestershire 11.5, Kent 11, Derbyshire 9.5.


(Play starts at 11:00 BST each day)

Division One:

Hampshire v Yorkshire – Ageas Bowl

Lancashire v Warwickshire – Emirates Old Trafford

Somerset v Nottinghamshire – Taunton

Division Two:

Glamorgan v Essex – Sophia Gardens

Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire – Bristol

Division Three:

Leicestershire v Kent – Leicester

Middlesex v Derbyshire – Lord’s

Worcestershire v Sussex – Worcester

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