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County Championship 2022

Mark Butcher: County Championship schedule is ‘horrendous’

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Speaking on the latest Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast, former England batter Mark Butcher has labelled the current County Championship schedule as “horrendous”.

This year’s competition gets underway on April 7, with seven rounds of fixtures to take place before the start of June. With the English men’s domestic season containing four competitions, the scheduling of the season remains a source of constant discussion within English cricket.

While this year’s Championship has more fixtures in June and July than there was in 2021, Butcher was critical of the look of the current calendar, and made mention of Stuart Broad’s comments in the England fast bowler’s recent Mail on Sunday column. Broad will be sitting out of Nottinghamshire’s opening fixture after explaining that back-to-back matches across the first two months of the Championship would not help him be in “peak condition” for England’s two-Test series against New Zealand in June.


“I mean [the schedule] it’s horrendous, it’s horrendous in a lot of ways really,” Butcher said. “What have we got, four rounds in April, and another three in May? No team is going to be able to play the same XI, you would imagine, each time, with only three-and-a-half days between matches.

“Pitches are going to be an issue, obviously. It’s been snowing all week. They are not going to be conducive to lots of different types of cricket; run-making can actually be easier sometimes when it’s freezing cold because the ball doesn’t do anything, the bowlers find it difficult to find any sort of movement. But the pitches are going to be slow and all the usual problems that you have when playing first-class cricket at this time of the year [will be there].

“And Stuart [Broad] is absolutely right. If your plan is to be involved in the Test matches, as they begin in the back-end of May, beginning of June, then the last thing you want to do is be playing seven consecutive Championship matches in the run-up. You’ve got to try and hedge your bets a little bit as to where you need to get yourself in order to take time off to be ready to play those Test matches.”

Butcher suggested that whoever is appointed the ECB men’s managing director this summer will have to take a look at the scheduling issue.

“I’m trying to think back to the final years of my time in first-class cricket. If you played two matches in April, you considered yourself a little bit unlucky, let alone playing four of them. So nobody likes it, least of all, the players. Groundsmen don’t like it, and it really doesn’t help if you’re talking bigger picture, in terms of producing top-quality Test-match cricketers, whether it be pace bowlers, spinners or even batters.”

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