Five teams have a realistic possibility of taking the top trophy. The current leaders, Yorkshire, have played one more game than Sussex (second place) and two more than Hampshire (3rd), Lancashire (4th) and Durham (5th).
Yorkshire have only two remaining games, unfortunately for them, they are facing Sussex and Hampshire. So their performance over the next few weeks will determine the outcome of the entire season. Although the call-up of key players into the international twenty20 competition may work in their favour.
It is interesting to note that all the top four teams have a spinner. Not just an ordinary spinner, but a really good one. Mushtaq Ahmed has been causing havoc at Sussex for years; Muttiah Muralitharan leads Lancashire’s attack and Shane Warne does the business for Hampshire. Now that Adil Rashid (Yorkshire’s joint top wicket taker) is plying his trade, Yorkshire are converted from a good county to a championship winning county. Only Durham lack a proper twirler.
Modern county success, at the top level, requires a spinner to give that extra penetration. Rob Key, captain of Kent and international object of desire notes:
“At the start of the season you think, ‘Who’s the best wizard spinner we can find?’ unfortunately, most of the best are signed up. You can’t write off any county that’s got one. On flat pitches it’s tough to outbowl sides like Sussex. We’ve been in good positions but unable to nail the win.”If you want to win you need to take twenty wickets. Spinners make that task easier; therefore increase you chances of winning. It’s simple. (It’s a pity the England set-up don’t understand that.) You really, really need a spinner. Really.
And when Durham don’t win the Championship, I’ll be the first to point out why.