Following another immensely entertaining start to The LV= Insurance County Championship, Shubi Arun takes a look at some of the plotlines and players to lookout for this summer.
Bazball making its way into the county game
It’s still early days but there are signs that Bazball - the England men’s team's ultra-attacking
style - is seeping into the county game.
Take, for example, how Lancashire responded to Somerset’s total of 441 in their Division 1
game, by racking up 302 in 59 overs and eventually finishing at 554. Or maybe even
Middlesex’s dramatic win over Nottinghamshire, where they chased 249 in 39 overs!
The changes to the rules have also supplanted a more positive brand of cricket. Teams get only five points for draws as compared to the eight they got last year. A first batting bonus point is now available when a team scores 250; it was 200 before that. There is now a maximum bonus of five points available for a team if they score 450 or more in 110 overs.
Ashes preparations in full swing
With the LV= Insurance Ashes Series a little more than a month away, England players have
been busy at county level as they get themselves into peak conditioning and form.
Surrey’s Ollie Pope blasted 122 in 102 balls against Hampshire in their Div. 1 game, Zak
Crawley scored a magnificent 170 for Kent against Essex and Nottinghamshire’s Ben Duckett scorched the Middlesex bowling attack, on his way to 177 in 258 balls.
The bowlers have been in good nick too - the evergreen Jimmy Anderson took the 54th five-for of his first-class career for Lancashire against Somerset and Sussex’s Ollie Robinson romped to a seven-wicket haul against Worcestershire.
International stars on display
Players from around the world flock to the LV = Insurance County Championship to ply their
trade and hone their craft. And this year’s been no different.
Indian stalwart Cheteshwar Pujara, who captains Sussex, has been in imperious form and has already racked up three centuries this season. One of Pujara’s teammates this year is Australian Steve Smith, who’s making his debut in the LV= Insurance County Championship and will play three games for Sussex ahead of the LV= Insurance Ashes Series.
Australian openers Marcus Harris and Peter Handscomb have been in amongst the runs for
Glamorgan and Leicestershire respectively and have notched up a century each already.
Marnus Labuschagne, who’s been a regular for Glamorgan since 2019, posted his best
bowling figures of 4/81 in their opening game against Durham. In Warwickshire’s game against Surrey, West India pacer took an incredible five-for in the 2nd innings and ended up with eight in the game.
Young talent coming through
The LV= Insurance County Championship has always been the breeding ground for young and upcoming talent in the country. This season too, the championship is replete with players who have the potential to define English cricket in the years to come.
Lancashire wicket-keeper George Bell, Northamptonshire all-rounder James Sales and
Yorkshire’s George Hill are just some of the names to keep an eye on as the summer progresses.