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County Championship: Dates, schedule, history & betting odds

The County Championship has been a staple of the English sporting summer for well over a century, running from the start of April to the end of September.

The 18 first-class counties are divided into two divisions as they battle for the title of the best four-day team in the country and plenty of legendary Test cricketers have cut their teeth in the County Championship.

WhatCounty Championship 2023
WhereEngland and Wales
WhenThursday 6th April to Friday 29th September 2023
How to watchLive streaming on YouTube with selected matches on Sky Sports

When is the County Championship?

The County Championship takes place each year during the English summer and the 2023 season starts on Thursday 6th April and finishes on Friday 29th September.

No County Championship fixtures will take place in August as that is the window for The Hundred, the 100-ball franchise competition which was launched by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2021.

Where is the County Championship?

County Championship fixtures are hosted by each of the 18 first-class counties in England and Wales and matches take place at some of the most illustrious grounds in world cricket.

Middlesex are based at Lord's while their London rivals Surrey play their home games at The Oval. Lancashire (Old Trafford), Yorkshire (Headingley), Warwickshire (Edgbaston) and Nottinghamshire (Trent Bridge) also play their county matches at some of England's traditional Test venues.

As well as their primary home venues, counties can schedule fixtures at smaller grounds such as Scarborough (Yorkshire), Southport and Blackpool (Lancashire), Chesterfield (Derbyshire) and Cheltenham (Gloucestershire).

Two of the newer county venues, which both now host England Test matches, are Durham's Riverside Ground, which was opened in 1995, and the Rose Bowl near Southampton, home to Hampshire since 2001.

Can I watch the County Championship?

Live streaming of County Championship games is available on YouTube and selected matches are on Sky Sports.

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How many times has the County Championship taken place?

The 2023 County Championship will be the 123rd season of the competition, which was first held in 1890.

County matches had been played since the early 18th century and an unofficial title was awarded by journalists between 1864 and 1889 before the competition was formalised in 1890 with Surrey crowned inaugural champions.

The County Championship did not take place between 1915 and 1918 and between 1940 and 1945 due to the World Wars and in 2000 the counties were split into two divisions with promotion and relegation.

Who has won the County Championship on the most occasions?

Yorkshire are the most successful team in the history of the County Championship, winning 32 outright titles and sharing the crown on one occasion.

Surrey's Division One triumph in 2022 took their tally of titles to 21 (one of them shared) while Middlesex have won it 13 times (twice shared) and Lancashire nine times (one shared). Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Somerset are the only counties yet to claim a top-flight title.

How does the County Championship work?

The 18 counties are divided into two divisions for the 2023 season with 10 teams in Division One and eight in Division Two.

Each team plays a total of 14 matches, seven at home and seven away, with 16 points awarded for a win, eight for a tie and five for a draw.

Counties can also earn bonus points depending on their batting and bowling performances in the first 110 overs of the first innings of a match. In order to pick up the maximum five batting bonus points a team must score at least 450 runs in the first 110 overs while three bowling bonus points are awarded for teams taking nine or 10 wickets.

Who are the favourites for the 2023 County Championship?

Surrey won eight of their 14 matches in Division One of the County Championship in 2022 to finish 25 points clear of runners-up Lancashire and both teams will be confident of another strong showing in 2023.

Surrey may be victims of their own success as players such as Ollie Pope, Sam Curran, Will Jacks, Jason Roy and Ben Foakes are likely to be unavailable for most of the summer due to England commitments.

Tom Curran has also opted out of red-ball cricket to concentrate on his limited-overs career while South Africa legend Hashim Amla, one of Surrey's overseas players in 2022, has retired.

Hampshire won nine matches in 2022, more than any other team in Division One, and they will welcome back experienced overseas bowlers Kyle Abbott and Mohammad Abbas in 2023.

Essex, who won the top-flight title in 2017 and 2019 and topped the Division Two table in 2021, should also be big runners with England's record Test runscorer Sir Alastair Cook still churning out centuries at the top of the order.

Yorkshire were relegated after winning just one match in 2022 but they may prove hard to stop in Division Two under the captaincy of classy Pakistan batsman Shan Masood.

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