The key talking points ahead of the start of the 2022 County Championship campaign

Stuart Broad (left) and James Anderson will be hoping to impress in early season Championship fixtures to boost their chance of an England Test recall.Stuart Broad (left) and James Anderson will be hoping to impress in early season Championship fixtures to boost their chance of an England Test recall.
Stuart Broad (left) and James Anderson will be hoping to impress in early season Championship fixtures to boost their chance of an England Test recall.
England’s cricketing focus shifts to the County Championship, which starts on Thursday following a disappointing winter overseas. Here, The News takes a look at five talking points ahead of the domestic red-ball season.


The cricket world will have its eye on Yorkshire this season after the off-field controversy at the club in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s racism and bullying allegations.

The club are now facing wholesale changes after 16 members of staff, including first-team head coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon, were removed from their roles.

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Darren Gough takes over as interim managing director of cricket but it remains to be seen how the tumultuous winter will have affected the county on the field.

Hampshire host Yorkshire in early June before travelling to Scarborough at the end of July.

It will be Hampshire’s third visit to North Marine Road in the 21st century, with both previous Championship games drawn.

In 2003, Simon Katich starred on the first day. The Australian scored 143 not out in a team total of 289. Remarkably, the other six members of Hampshire’s top seven compiled just 13 between them! Extras (52) was next highest.

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Seven years later, Jimmy Adams (196) and James Vince (180) shared a fourth wicket stand of 278.

A new-look fixture list

Two divisions have returned to the County Championship for the first time since 2019, with 10 clubs in division one and eight in division two. There will also be five rounds played during June and July, an increase from three rounds during the 2021 season, designed to maximise the best conditions for cricket. But August is still given over to the ECB’s controversial The Hundred tournament, while counties will contest 50-over Royal London Cup ties (Hampshire will be without James Vince, Liam Dawson, Joe Weatherley, Mason Crane and Brad Wheal on Hundred duty).

The first six rounds of the Championship take place in April and May with the final three rounds taking place in September. Hampshire’s final four-day game is against defending champions Warwickshire, starting on September 26.


The last two Championship seasons have been affected by the pandemic, both with the three divisions and limited (2021) or no (2020) crowds. This year the restrictions have eased – there were no training restrictions over the winter, allowing for a full pre-season for the counties. There will also be no restrictions on the number of spectators permitted throughout the entire season.

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The future of the County Championship and English Test cricket?

The ability of the Championship to produce players of Test calibre has come under scrutiny with the recent disastrous Ashes series in Australia and failure in the Caribbean. One example is Ollie Pope, who averages an almost-unheard-of 70.43 in the top tier of the Championship for Surrey but just 28.66 at Test level. Pope’s Championship scores include 221 not out (v Hampshire, 2019), 245 (v Leicestershire, 2021) and 274 (v Glamorgan, 2021). Against that, he has just one Test century in 40 innings. Long-term success on the international stage needs a successful county set up, but former Hampshire and England batsman Kevin Pietersen is just one critic of the current format. He believes the Championship should be scrapped – ‘completely flawed’ was one of his comments - and replaced with an eight-team red ball franchise league.

International opportunities

With six rounds of the competition taking place before England’s first Test match of the summer, against world champions New Zealand in June, there is ample opportunity for players to push for a spot in a less-than-settled England Test team. Stuart Broad and James Anderson – 35 and 39 respectively - will be looking to impress the England selectors after being controversially left out of the series against the West Indies. Anderson could well figure for Lancashire against Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl in the third Division 1 fixture of the season.