England batsman and Hampshire captain, James Vince, celebrates catching Craig Miles. Hampshire are currently in the lead for this year’s title
This season’s county cricket finale is full of tension with Hampshire, Warwickshire, Lancashire and Nottingham all competing for the LV County Championship title.
Due to the complications of the Covid-19 pandemic on last year’s season, this year has seen a new two-phase format with the 18 counties being split up into three groups of six and playing 10 matches in total. The top two teams from each group advanced to Division One for this second phase, the third and fourth-placed teams progressing to Division Two, and the fifth and sixth placed teams moving to Division Three.
There are currently 6.5 points between Hampshire, who started the round of fixtures in top spot, and Nottingham, who are fourth. Hampshire go into their final match with 58.5 points, Warwickshire close behind on 55, Lancashire on 54.5 and Nottingham on 52.
Here’s how the final fixtures line up - who will be crownded champions at the end of it?
Lancashire v Hampshire - Aigburth, Liverpool
Lancashire last ended their 77 drought without a County Championship title in 2011 at Aigburth while Emirates Old Trafford was under development.
Last week’s crushing 10 wicket triumph over Somerset at Taunton has given Lancashire a chance to win their ninth outright title.
Current title leaders, Hampshire, will look to finally have a third title against their name and the first for 48 years.
After last weekend’s sorrowful exit from the T20 Blast, losing to Somerset in the semi-final, Hampshire will look to bring some hope and joy back to the county.
Ever since the days of Gordon Greenidge and Barry Richards, Hampshire have struggled to solidify any chances of a title but will look to maximise their 3.5 point lead in this year’s race for the top.
Lancashire v Hampshire takes place Tuesday 21 September - Friday 24 September
Warwickshire v Somerset - Edgbaston, Birmingham
Somerset’s current form since the restart of the County Championship has been questionable, giving second-placed Warwickshire a great chance of winning this year’s title.
This second phase has seen Somerset experience two innings defeats, the first by Nottinghamshire and the second inside two days by Yorkshire.
The south-west team will also come into this match off the back of a defeat in the T20 final against Kent on Saturday.
England all-rounder, Chris Woakes, is set to come back into the Warwickshire squad after he inspired the win against Yorkshire taking 3-40 in the first innings and 3-26 in the second.
Warwickshire v Somerset takes place Tuesday 21 September - Friday 24 September
Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire - Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Up until last week’s match against Hampshire, Nottinghamshire looked on track to win their first County Championship since 2010. Their innings win against Somerset, as well as their triumph over Lancashire, has since been marred by their defeat against Hampshire who bowled them out cheaply, beating them by 122 runs.
Yorkshire, a county with the greatest number of County Championship titles (32), are out of this year’s race for the top spot.
Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire takes place Tuesday 21 September - Friday 24 September
Bob Willis Trophy Final
Not only will this week’s fight be for the LV County Championship title, but the top two finishers in Division One will also qualify for the Bob Willis Trophy final which takes place from Tuesday 28 September to Saturday 2 October at Lord’s, London.
Essex and Somerset met at last year’s fixture which was introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic disruptive red-ball season, with Essex being crowned Champions.
The Bob Willis Trophy has been brought back as an additional chance to win a Trophy with crowds permitted to attend the fixture.
Division Two Fixtures:
Essex v Northamptonshire - CloudFM Stadium Chelmsford, Essex
Gloucestershire v Durham - Bristol Cricket Ground, Bristol
Surrey v Glamorgan - Kia Oval, Surrey.
Division Three Fixtures:
Kent v Middlesex - Spitfire Ground St Lawrence, Canterbury, Kent
Sussex v Derbyshire - 1st Central County Ground, Hove, Sussex
Worcestershire v Leicestershire - New Road, Worcester