Three divisions the way forward for County Championship, says Andrew Gale

ANDREW GALE believes that the Bob Willis Trophy format is the way forward for the County Championship and that it should replace the system of two divisions.

By Chris Waters
Saturday, 19th September 2020, 10:56 am
Yorkshire's coach Andrew Gale (Picture:
Yorkshire's coach Andrew Gale (Picture:

The Yorkshire first-team coach said that the BWT – played as a one-off this year due to the pandemic – will help clubs produce more England players and discourage short-term overseas signings.

Yorkshire had a successful tournament, finishing top of the North Group in a weather-affected campaign that might otherwise have seen them reach the final.

Gale felt that the format of three divisions of six counties – instead of the usual two divisions of nine – worked well, with the system likely to come in permanently from next season albeit on a seedings as opposed to regionalised basis.

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“I like it,” said Gale. “It allows you to play a lot of your own talent and have a look without making short-term decisions on relegation. We’ve all seen some of the signings a lot of counties – including myself – have made, bringing players in for two/three games, and it hasn’t really worked, so being able to have the time to nurture your own players and have a look at them at first-class level is great. It certainly allows us to produce more England players, and that’s got to be good for English cricket.”

Yorkshire have long advocated a BWT-type conference system, with director of cricket Martyn Moxon a particular fan. It dispenses with promotion and relegation and it is thought that 16 of the 18 counties are presently in favour.

“It doesn’t take the pressure off as such, but it sort of allows you a bit more breathing space,” added Gale. “It allows every team in the country to win the County Championship. I can’t say I’m a fan of it being regionalised, because we finished top of our group and then were penalised for living in the north (due to the weather). Maybe some format around the conference system that Martyn (Moxon) mentioned a few years back would be ideal.”

It is thought that three conferences of six teams, seeded on the finishing positions of the previous year (initially, the 2019 Championship) would see each county play 10 games between April and June.

Based on finishing positions, they would then split into three new divisions and each play another four games in August/September before a five-day final.

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