County Championship factors system tweaked to encourage aggressive batting

The next threshold for batting bonus factors, a discount within the variety of factors obtainable for a draw, and a two-round trial of the Kookaburra ball, are among the many tweaks to the County Championship forward of the 2023 season, in a bid to maintain the home sport aligned with the aggressive method of the England males’s Test staff.

This season, 5 factors can be obtainable for a draw – a return to pre-pandemic ranges after a rise to eight was launched in 2019 as an incentive for counties to organize higher pitches. And although 16 factors will nonetheless be obtainable for a win, groups will now want to attain 250 inside 110 overs within the first innings (a rise from 200) to realize one bonus level, rising by increments of fifty to 450 for the utmost of 5 – which, if achieved, would require a price of greater than 4 an over.

Alan Fordham, the ECB’s head of Cricket Operations (First Class), denied that this transformation had come about as an specific response to the so-called “Bazball” impact, with England successful 9 out of ten Tests since adopting a extra constructive perspective to run-scoring. However Ben Stokes, the Test captain, attended a gathering of the county administrators of cricket at St George’s Park final month to move on the Test staff’s philosophy and provides pointers as to how county cricketers might search to emulate his staff’s type.

Explaining the adjustments, Fordham mentioned: “People were not too worried about an incentive to score 450 runs rather than 400. But scoring 200 runs in a four-day game, is that a level you should be getting points? No. So let’s move that up a bit. And maxing out at 450 can only have a positive effect. Those were the drivers rather than a direct ‘Bazball’ influence.

“We want to obtain an encouragement for groups to bat lengthy on well-prepared surfaces within the first innings and pushing video games into day 4 however offering the added incentive to win video games,” he added. “Ultimately, groups needs to be on the market to win. It is a fragile stability. First-innings bonus factors proceed to be seen as important with an incentive to exit and win.”

Many of the changes for 2023 have been influenced by the High Performance Review, carried out by Andrew Strauss last summer, including the decision to use Kookaburra balls during two rounds of the Championship, between June 25-28 and July 10-13. The Kookaburra, used predominantly in the southern hemisphere including Australia where England have lost 13 and won none of their last 15 Tests, has a less pronounced seam than the Dukes ball traditionally used in England.

And while the chosen dates clash with the ongoing men’s Ashes this summer – meaning that prospective Test call-ups may get less-than-ideal preparation on the county circuit – Fordham said that the competitive balance of the Championship was the over-riding consideration, with all 18 counties playing in those two rounds.

Other changes include the ability of counties to register four overseas players at the same time – up from three. While only two such players can play in any given game, the move is designed to aid counties who wish to sign two red-ball and two white-ball players simultaneously, particularly during periods of the season when there is a dovetailing of Blast and Championship matches.

Further down the line, the structure of the 2024 English season looks set to be broadly similar to that for 2023, in the wake of the counties’ rejection of Strauss’s recommendations for a six-team Championship top flight. Although the incoming ECB chair, Richard Thompson, had previously indicated that the fixtures for 2024 would need to be agreed upon before the start of this season, Neil Snowball, the managing director of county cricket, stated that this is no longer the case.

“We have not bought a cliff edge the place we have got to make any huge selections between now and the beginning of the season,” he said. “There are not any huge selections nonetheless to be made. We’re sticking with the quantity of cricket in 2023 and can most probably roll by way of 2024. Any adjustments to format buildings must get the help of the counties and we’ll proceed to take a look at that.”

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