English & Welsh cricket’s most awaited and most coveted first-class cricket competition – County Championship is back! After a gap of a year due to the pandemic, the County Championship will kick off from April 8.
Tom Westley’s Essex will be looking forward to defending both the titles – County Championship, 2019 and Bob Willis Trophy, 2020 (an off tournament held after the County Championship was cancelled in 2020). Insurance giants LV= (Liverpool Victoria) are the title sponsors this season.
Let’s have a look into this year’s format and probable winners of the 2021 LV= Insurance County Championship.
Format of the 2021 LV= Insurance County Championship:
The County Championship will be held in two stages. Group Stage and Division Stage. Every team will start its season from the group stage to win both County Championship and Bob Willis Trophy.
Group Stage (April-July)
The 18 first-class counties are split into three groups having 6 counties each. The groups were decided based on the seedings counties got from their performances in the 2019 County Championship and 2020 Bob Willis Trophy.
Each county will play 10 matches in the group stage (5 home and 5 away games). At the end of the group stage, the top two counties from every group will progress to Division One. The third and fourth Counties will progress to Division Two and the last two counties from each group will move to Division Three.
The groups are
Group 1: Derbyshire, Durham, Essex, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire.
Group 2: Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Somerset, Surrey.
Group 3: Glamorgan, Kent, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Sussex, Yorkshire.
Division Stage (August-September)
At the division stage, each county will play 4 matches against the counties from their division. They won’t play against the county from their group but will carry half the points they gathered in the two matches they played against that county in the group stage.
The County that finishes at the top of Division One will be crowned as the 2021 LV= Insurance County Champions.
Bob Willis Trophy (27th September)
The top two teams from Division One will battle for the Bob Willis Trophy on 27th November.
With such an intense structure adopted by ECB this season, the road to the 2021 County Championship will be rough and turning for every county. Let’s see who are the favourites.
Who Will Win the 2021 LV= Insurance County Championship?
Well, the structure is intense. Everyone has a chance to proceed to division one and then battle against the top two counties of every other group. It’s difficult to predict the outcomes. Then there are big teams.
They know exactly how to battle such situations based on their players’ experiences. Here is some information on the favourites to the battle throat to throat for the 2021 LV= Insurance County Championship.
The eight-times County Champions are the strongest contenders of this season. They are the current champions (2019 County Championship). They continued to enjoy their success in 2020 by winning the one off-season Bob Willis Trophy.
The Essex County Cricket Club will be captained by former English International Tom Westley. They have managed to keep the same team except for Rishi Patel who signed a deal with Leicestershire. Sir Alastair Cook is back in the business after guiding Essex to the titles last two seasons. He was the leading run-scorer for Essex with 913 runs.
Essex has the deadliest seam attack in the Championship. Harmer-Porter-Siddle trio has troubled every batsman last season. Their impact was so severe that collectively they took 165 wickets. Harmer picked 83 wickets with an average of 18.28 and an economy of 2.54. With all the weapons in the artillery are intact, Essex are the clear favourites to clinch the title this season.
32 (+1 shared)!!!! That’s the number of County Championship titles Yorkshire have in their trophy cabinet. The County cricket’s most decorated team won the title last time in 2015. Though they will be missing Jonny Bairstow and David Malan in the early season due to their IPL commitments, they have a top-notch team that can compete to qualify for division one.
Yorkshire has Joe Root who is in outstanding form. He recently scored 2 double centuries and a century for the national team on their Asia tour. Captained by Steven Patterson the club management will be looking forward to seeing Root scoring runs in his limited availability.
Gary Balance will continue opening for Yorkshire. He was the second-leading run-scorer in 2019 with 975 runs. If he gets support for Tom Kohler-Cadmore, the batting line-up will prove lethal for any opponents.
Bowling attack is a bit of concern for Yorkshire. They have resigned South African pacer Duanne Olivier – their leading wicket-taker from the last season along with Somerset spinner Dom Bess. Yorkshire has heavily trusted their youth this season by adding 9 of their youth players on the roaster.
Somerset came so close to win their first County Championship title in 2019, only to lose to Essex by 11 points. But they have all the firepower to get their hands on the title this season.
They have given the captaincy to the batting all-rounder Tom Abell. Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton will be leading the bowling department for Somerset. Gregory took 51 wickets in the 2019 season with the second-lowest average in the tournament.
Somerset is happy with the in-form spinner Jack Leach. His recent exposure to international cricket might come in handy for them to win the title for the first time. Tom Banton who had a pretty good season for Somerset, cancelled his IPL contract to play the county cricket. It will be interesting to see how this decision will pan out.
The English and Wales cricket fans will be on their toes to see the return of the County Championship. With a different structure this season, every county will be ready to ride the tide. With Essex, Yorkshire, and Somerset being favourites, there can be some dark horses like Nottinghamshire and Lancashire who can cause trouble in the paradise.