@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read
After a mid-summer block of fixtures, the 2022 County Championship will now take an extended break, resuming in September after the completion of The Hundred and the One-Day Cup.
Both tiers of the competition are tantalisingly poised ahead of the run-in. Every side has either three or four games yet to play, and only a handful are without something to play for.
As a reminder, there are 16 points on offer for a win and eight points for a draw or tie. There are also eight bonus points on offer in each game, five for how a team goes with the bat, and three for their efforts with the ball.
Here’s how things stand right now:
County Championship Division One
The title race
Surrey, the only unbeaten team in either division, are leading the charge for the County Championship title, but are far from running away with it. They lead Hampshire by 16 points, with Lancashire a further 18 points behind and still in the mix.
Hampshire have, on paper, the easiest run-in of the three, with Northamptonshire, Kent and Warwickshire – all in the bottom six – in their way. However, they might be rather playing Surrey, with the two sides only facing off once this season. Due to Division One having two more teams than Division Two, not every team faces each other twice.
Surrey and Lancashire will both face Yorkshire, with Surrey also facing Northamptonshire and Lancs facing Essex, in fourth as it stands and, having played a game fewer, still with a decent chance of pushing the top three. Lancashire will then welcome Surrey to Old Trafford in the season’s last round, a mouth-watering clash that could yet be a winner-takes-all title decider.
The relegation battle
Gloucestershire are nearly adrift at the bottom of the table, 37 points off of ninth-Somerset, who have a game in hand on their West Country rivals. But above the Bristol-based side, it’s all to play for, with only 17 points separating Somerset and sixth-placed Yorkshire. The Headingley outfit, also with a game in hand, are well placed to stay up, but Kent and Warwickshire, between them and Somerset, will be looking over their shoulders. Northants, picked by several as pre-season relegation candidates, have done well to make their way to fifth as things stand, 31 points clear of Somerset having played the same number of games.
If Gloucestershire are to complete the great escape, their fixtures are well set up to aid their cause, with Somerset, Warwickshire and Yorkshire all in their way for a trio of 48-pointers. Somerset will also play fellow relegation-battlers Warwickshire and Kent, with Northants rounding out their fixture list. Warwickshire’s final fixture will come against Hampshire, with Kent also playing Hampshire and Essex. Yorkshire face a tough run-in, with Essex, Lancashire and Surrey, three of the top four, in their way.
County Championship Division Two
The promotion push
As many predicted, Nottinghamshire are well in front, 30 points clear of second-placed Middlesex. But the battle for second is a tense one, with 10 points between the Seaxes and Derbyshire in fourth, sandwiching Glamorgan. The Cardiff-based side have a game in hand on the other members of the top four, as do Worcestershire, fifth and 25 points off fourth, but perhaps not quite out of consideration.
Notts’ run-in is relatively easy, with Leicestershire, Worcestershire and Durham in their path. Middlesex will also face Leicestershire and Worcestershire, with a potentially pivotal clash against Glamorgan in their calendar too. Glamorgan’s last four fixtures start against Worcestershire and end against Sussex, but with the Seaxes and Derbyshire in the midst of that, they have plenty of opportunity to take points off their rivals. Derbyshire will play Durham and Leicestershire, as well as that Glamorgan game.
The wooden spoon
No wins, six defeats from 10 and 33 points adrift of Sussex in ninth. Sorry Leicestershire fans, but the cooking utensil of doom is headed your way.