The first-class cricket season in England runs from April to September, when the main competition is for the Frizzel County Championships, competed for by 18 county teams organised into two divisions. Matches are played over four days, and many of them are drawn, owing to the vagaries of English weather. In addition to the County Championship, county teams also compete in the ECB National Cricket League, where limited-over matches are played in one day, and in two one-day knockout competitions: the Twenty20 Cup and the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy (the final of which is played at Lord’s, the home of English cricket). In addition to the first-class County Championship, there’s a Minor Counties Championship (Eastern and Western Divisions), a Second XI Championship and a multitude of local village teams, school teams, university teams, pub teams and women’s teams, who compete at all levels throughout England. Scotland and Ireland also have cricket teams, although they (wisely) don’t take the game seriously. There’s an England ladies cricket team (who have been doing well lately, but have a hard job getting misogynists to take them seriously) and the game is played at all levels by women and girls throughout the UK. For those who wish to play with a straighter bat or brush up on their googly technique, there are cricket schools and coaching courses in many areas.
Cricket is played at international level (called test matches) by a number of Commonwealth countries, including Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Zimbabwe. During the English cricket season, the England cricket team is usually engaged (i.e. getting beaten) in one or two minor series of international matches (three tests) or a major series (five or six tests). If you think four days (county matches) is a long time for a single match to last, a test match lasts five days, usually with a rest day after two or three days’ play. One-day internationals are also played. The England cricket team also conducts overseas tours during the English winter, when it plays a series of test matches. The old enemy (in cricketing terms) are the Aussies (Australians), with whom England compete every few years for the Ashes (which aren’t human, but the burnt remains of an old cricket bail from the early days of international cricket). A world cup knockout competition also takes place at regular intervals. The largest cricket website in the world is Wisden’s (www.cricinfo.com), which is huge, while that of the England and Wales Cricket Board (www.edb.co.uk) is equally indispensable.
This article is an extract from Living and working in Britain. Click here to get a copy now.