Cricket is the second most popular spectator sport in the world, after football. It originated in the South East of England in the late 16th century and it became the country’s national game in the 1700’s. Inter county cricket matches are known to have been played since this time. The most successful county teams at this time were Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex.
The County Championship is the first-class competition in England and Wales containing 18 clubs from counties around the country. It was made official in a meeting at Lord’s in 1889. This competition was launched for the 1890 season and included Gloucestershire, Kent, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex and Yorkshire. It was the mid 1800’s that triggered the formation of county clubs and as the popularity of cricket increased more clubs came into being. Around 1870 ideas were put forward to arrange some kind of league system and W.G Grace began writing about his views on who was the champion. Grace was captain of Gloucestershire and made several claims to the championship title as there were no consistent rules regarding determining winners.
1873 saw an important ruling come into force whereby players had to choose whether to play for the county of their birth or the county of their residence. The first ever official cricket County Championship match took place on 12th May 1890 with final positions decided by number of wins minus number of losses. Later, a points system finally took over.
Current county cricket teams include:
Surrey and Yorkshire each won six of the first thirteen championships but after this the competition opened up and was won by all but two of the original member clubs by WWI. Yorkshire dominated the interwar period and Surrey after WWII but since then no other team has been able to win as consistently as those two teams did.
In 2000 the competition was split into two divisions and the winner of Division One was declared the County Championship. Yorkshire holds the record for most title wins, followed by Surrey and then Middlesex. For the first six seasons the bottom three teams were relegated and the top three of Division Two were promoted. In 2006 this was modified to a two-up, two-down system.
Nowadays county cricket grounds can be used for many purposes other than sport and can offer great facilities for events such as parties, corporate events and weddings. For Taunton venue hire, visit http://www.countygroundtaunton.co.uk/. Sporting venues work really well for events as most of the rooms overlook the field so there will be lots of natural daylight and a fantastic backdrop. Due to the nature of sporting events, the venue should be equipped with an excellent audio-visual set up, perfect for party use. Large public venues such as sports grounds tend to offer free Wifi and have great transport links and plenty of parking.