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Daniel Brigham: ECB to re-think points system

November 4th, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in County cricket

The County Championship points system will be reviewed for next season, the ECB has announced.

About time. Obviously this could just be an excuse for a working group to meet up at Starbucks for a natter and nothing will get changed but it is at least an acknowledgment by the board that there could be a better way of allocating points. As it stands, a team receives 14 points for a win, four points for draw and up to eight bonus points from their first-innings performances.

Perhaps the ECB were prompted by two obvious points absurdities in the Championship tables last season, both in the second division. Bottom side Leicestershire finished two points behind second-bottom Middlesex yet won the same number of games as them and lost four fewer matches.

Surely this makes Leicestershire the better side? Well, no, apparently not. That seems boringly logical so Middlesex escaped a first-ever wooden spoon by virtue of their first-innings performances. It’s not wholly dissimilar to goals in the first half of football matches counting double.

Then there was the difference between fourth place (Gloucestershire) and fifth place (Glamorgan). It was just 10 points, yet Gloucestershire won four more matches than Glamorgan. Hardly an incentive to go all out for wins.

The working group set up to review the points system will report back to the ECB in December. Initially that didn’t seem to give them a whole lot of time but, thinking about it, it’s way too much. It takes just 10 seconds to come to the sensible decision of following the football route with three points for a win, one for a draw and nothing for losing. Imagine that. A points system that doesn’t reward teams for getting beaten.

It’s likely that the change won’t make a huge amount of difference to the final standings – just a few teams changing positions here and there (although Kent, not Warwickshire, would have won the title in 2005). What it definitely will do is make following it nice and simple. Imagine that. A Championship that is easy to follow.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

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