Cricket County Championship Review – Essex Takes the Win
The Cricket County Championship came to a conclusion this week and it was an interesting day for all involved. Fans flocked to their favourite ground hoping for a break in the autumn weather to see some play, but they are always fighting against the odds.
Sports bettors also had their fill of enjoyment over the course of the final few days of play. Bookmakers capitalised on the increased level of interest in the County Championship by offering a flood of tempting betting markets. There were outright odds, granting backers a chance to bet on their County Championship winners, as well as dozens of markets available on each match. This included winner, top run-scorer and top bowler.
Followers also had a chance to get their cash down on a list of exciting specials. Many of the more popular options remained live during the four days of action thanks to in-play betting. A bet was possible before the coin toss or at any stage of the week.
Weather Plays a Part
It has been a memorable summer of cricket in the UK. The ICC Cricket World Cup was played to a thrilling conclusion before England and Australia renewed rivalries in the 2019 renewal of the Ashes Test Series. The increased media coverage and excitement in both the World Cup and Ashes resulted in a huge number of new fans taking an interest in the sport of cricket, including an entirely new generation of followers. The ODI, Twenty20 and Test Match games have never been quite as popular as they are at the minute.
It was, therefore, no surprise to see sports bettors carry their interest over to the final round of matches from the County Championship. This tournament more than did its part for the cause by serving up a thrilling final round, followers kept guessing right up until the final ball. We saw wet weather play a part at the ICC World Cup during summer, forcing a few games to be abandoned and resulted as a draw or rescheduled. It was far from ideal, but we were lucky enough to see many of the knockout games pass without interference.
There were also a few delays in the Ashes Series, which ended in a draw and saw Australia retain the urn, due to rainfall. It was, therefore, no major shock to see the sheets pulled over more than once during the final few days of the County Championships.
Essex Get the Benefit
The great British summertime is world-renowned for being troublesome to sport, so it didn’t do much to put players off their stride. Delays are something many in the top division have become used to and learned to deal with. It’s just part of the game in England and won’t change anytime soon. It was disappointing for fans, however. Members of the public paid their entrance fee and were forced to amuse themselves to fill in the gaps while play was rained off.
The story of the third day of play in the County Championship was a complete wash out. No play was possible in the Kent v Hampshire, Somerset v Essex and Warwickshire v Yorkshire matches. We saw limited action in the Surrey v Nottinghamshire game as Surrey battled against the elements to increase their lead to 325 runs with nine wickets remaining. More of the same was expected across the board on day four and that left supporters feeling frustrated and cheated of what should have been an enjoyable four days of County Test Match cricket.
The fans may not have been happy, trying to hide their disappointment, but one group who couldn’t hide their pleasure in the situation was the Essex crew. Of course, the team would love to play to a deserved and uninterrupted conclusion, but they also knew every drop of rain brought them a step closer to the title. As the heavens opened at Taunton there was an increased chance of the Essex v Somerset title decider being abandoned. That would hand Essex the prize and although it wasn’t the way they dreamed of winning the trophy back at the start of the season, no one in the changing room was in the mood to send their prize back.
Fight to the Bitter End
Essex’s rivals were in a fighting spirit and Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry took cover to speak to the sporting press in midweek. He detailed his team’s fighting spirit and told fans in midweek his boys wouldn’t give up hope of delivering a smash and grab on the final day of play. He declared the team had put too much on the line and battled hard for too long to simply wave the white flag. It was impressive to see them willing to fight to the bitter end, but there wasn’t a lot they could do from the dressing room as the pitch was too wet for cricket to be played.
The outright betting heading into the final day of play reflected this and bookmakers priced Essex out of reach of average backers. They were 1/100 on the Betfair Exchange which told its own story. There would be no final day heroics similar to England’s World Cup final win over New Zealand at Lord’s in London or their first Test Match win against Australia to level the Ashes series at 1-1 and one draw. Backers were forced to sit out of the outright betting, knowing the chance at a nice priced surprise was over.
That left them to pick through the bones of the individual matches and the fact the Somerset v Essex draw was no more than 1/50 with Betfair gave the game away. A disappointing end to what had been an enjoyable season from the first ball to the final drop of rain. UK cricket is now limited for the remainder of 2019 and we can see exactly why.