College and county cricket
Amateur and professional cricket players competed in some of the first games that were ever organized. The Gentlemen-versus-Players competition paired the greatest amateurs against the best pros from 1806, (annually from 1819), through 1962. When the MCC and the counties abandoned the difference between amateurs and professionals in 1962, the series came to an end. Earlier cricket matches between British universities also occurred. For instance, the Oxford-versus-Cambridge match, which is mostly contested at Lord’s since 1827, has grown to be a highlight of the London summer season.
University cricket served as a form of training ground for county cricket, or games between the several English counties. Although Sussex was hailed as a “champion county” by the newspapers as early as 1827, county cricket qualification standards were not established until 1873, and the countries (cricket match today) themselves did not codify the county championship’s framework until 1890. Thanks to W.G. Grace and his brothers E.M. and G.F. Grace, Gloucestershire ruled in the 1870s.
The Big Six, which dominated county cricket from the 1880s until World War I, were Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Kent, and Middlesex. The northern counties, led by Yorkshire and Lancashire, who had primarily professional teams, were in charge after World War I. The 1950s were dominated by Surrey, who won seven straight championships, the 1960s by Yorkshire, and the 1970s by Kent and Middlesex. Middlesex, Worcestershire, Essex, and Nottinghamshire dominated in the 1980s. Leicestershire, Somerset, Hampshire, Durham, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Sussex, Northamptonshire, and Glamorgan are additional counties that play first-class county cricket.
After a wartime boom, the 1950s were marked by sluggish play and fewer run totals, and this defensive style of county cricket resulted in steadily declining attendance. The introduction of a one-day knockout competition by the MCC and the counties in the 1960s, which was known as the Gillette Cup from 1963 to 1980, the NatWest Bank Trophy from 1981 to 2000, the C&G Trophy from 2000 to 2006, and the Friends Provident Trophy from 2006 to 2009, as well as a separate Sunday afternoon league (the two competitions were combined in 2010 as the Clydesdale Bank 40), revived public interest, though the majority of counties were still financially dependent on football pool proceeds
The immediate registration of overseas players was permitted, and each county, as of the early 1980s, was allowed one such player, who could, however, still play for his national team. The change worked well for the counties, and it also strengthened the national teams for whom those players appeared. In county cricket, bonus points were created to encourage batsmen and bowlers to play less defensively, and from 1988, to help the development of young batsmen and spin bowlers, four-day games increasingly replaced the three-day format. The longer game gives batsmen more time to build an innings and relieves them of the pressure to score runs quickly. Spin bowlers benefit from the longer game because the pitch wears as the game progresses and permits greater spin.
The Cricket Council and the ECB
The MCC’s lengthy reign as the game’s governing body came to an end in 1969 when English cricket underwent restructuring, while the group continues to be in charge of the laws. The MCC was asked to establish a governing body for the game along the lines generally accepted by other sports in Great Britain in light of the establishment of the Sports Council (a government agency tasked with overseeing sports in Great Britain) and the possibility of obtaining government funding for cricket. These efforts led to the creation of the Cricket Council, which is made up of the Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB), the National Cricket Association (NCA), and the MCC.
All first-class and minor-counties cricket in England, as well as international tours, fell under the purview of the TCCB, which replaced the Advisory County Cricket Committee and the Board of Control of Test Matches at Home. The Women’s Cricket Association, as well as delegates from clubs, schools, and military services cricket, made up the NCA. Another organizational change took place in 1997, when the England and Wales Cricket Board absorbed the TCCB, the NCA, and the Cricket Council (ECB).