Lack of coverage is hurting County Championship cricket

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It’s that time of the year again when the days are getting shorter, the football season has returned and the cricket summer is drawing to a close.

Pretty soon we are going to have to turn our attention to distant shores to get our cricketing fix but before then there is the rare opportunity to watch some County Championship cricket on the television – a rare luxury these days. 

But it shouldn’t be, especially considering the number of limited overs domestic games that can be enjoyed throughout the summer.

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Curtain closer

As always, the TV cameras will be sternly fixed onto a Division One games during the final round of fixtures, having also shown a season opener.

Yorkshire’s early seizure of their 31st County Championship title means that their final match – at home to Somerset – is a dead rubber. With that in mind, the focus shifts to Old Trafford, where Lancashire will play Middlesex.

Both sides have a chance of going down, although the visitors’ 19-point advantage pre-game makes them favourites to avoid the drop. Despite the big deficit that Lancashire have to try and overcome, it should be a good game for the neutral.

As are many Championship encounters that can sometimes go under the radar in terms of coverage. But with feats such as Chris Rushworth’s 15 wickets in one day taking place at grounds like Chester-le-street there is a lot that fans are missing out on.

Sky coverage

Sky do an impressive job with the amount of ground they cover for domestic T20 and 50-over matches. In between Test matches, you can hardly go a day without their being a game in England on the television.

Top pundits and presenters traverse the furthest corners and grounds of the County game to bring us some good action. But it would be nice to have more of a variety with more four-day matches complimenting their already good one-day coverage.

It is unrealistic to expect Sir Ian Botham to turn up suited and booted for Canterbury Week, but just four or five matches in each division a year would allow every team to be shown once, which could produce a surge in support for the longer format of the game.

Stumbling blocks

However, the unpredictability of the weather means that it could be a nightmare for broadcasters. In Test cricket, rain delays are filled with idle chat and footage from classic matches and this could be a solution for four-day cricket as well.

While a lot more patience and attention is required of the viewer than is for a T20 fixture, there is no necessity to sit and watch six hours straight. Watching the odd session here or there could add the drama and excitement of a match that is often lost in a match report.

Viewing figures might not be as high for County Championship cricket, but it would certainly boost the profile of the four-day game if it was to receive more television coverage in years to come.

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