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.
The County Championship takes place each year during the English summer and the 2024 season is due to start in April and finish in late September.
As in 2023, it is likely that no County Championship fixtures will take place in August as that is the window for The Hundred, the 100-ball franchise competition launched by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2021.
County Championship matches generally start at 11:00 in the morning and the day's play finishes at 18:00.
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).
Live streaming of County Championship games is available on YouTube and selected matches are broadcast on Sky Sports Cricket.
The 18 counties are divided into two divisions 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.
The 2024 County Championship will be the 124th 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.
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 back-to-back Division One triumphs in 2022 and 2023 took their tally of titles to 22 (one of them shared) while Middlesex have won it 13 times (twice shared) and Lancashire nine times (once shared).
Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Somerset are the only counties yet to claim a top-flight title.
Surrey claimed the Division One title in 2022 and 2023, winning eight of their 14 matches in 2023 to finish 20 points clear of runners-up Essex.
Third-placed Hampshire also won eight games and those three counties are expected to be among the title favourites in 2024.
Essex won the Division One title in 2017 and 2019 and topped the Division Two table in 2021, although England batsman Dan Lawrence left for champions Surrey at the end of the 2023 season.
Warwickshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Kent have retained their places in the top flight and they will be joined by Durham and Worcestershire, who were promoted from Division Two in 2023.
Northamptonshire and Middlesex were relegated and they are likely to be scrapping for promotion with Sussex and Yorkshire in Division Two in 2024.