The eighteen English first-class counties are the main cricket teams in England. They are all named after (and originally represented) historic English counties. Although Glamorgan is a Welsh county, it is generally included when referring to the English first-class counties.
The English first-class counties are:
The full name of the cricket team is usually formed from the name of the county followed by the words County Cricket Club, which are often abbreviated to CCC.
Other first-class teams
When the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) plays against one of the first-class counties, the game is granted first-class status. The opening first-class game of an English county cricket season is traditionally played at Lord's between the MCC and the Champion County - the club that won the County Championship the previous year.
Four University Cricketing Centre of Excellence (UCCE) teams are also afforded first-class status when playing against a first-class county. They are:
Most of the first-class counties play three-day games against university cricket teams in the early part of the English cricket season. This is partly because the start of the cricket season coincides with the end of the university academic year, and partly because the games act as pre-season warm-ups game for the county clubs. The university clubs involved are usually, but not exclusively, the four that are granted first-class status when playing one of the first-class county sides. The other UCCEs, not having first-class status but which sometimes play against county sides, are Cardiff and Leeds/Bradford.
The minor counties are the cricketing counties of England that are not afforded first-class status.
Some teams outside of the English counties have been allowed to take part in some English county cricket one-day competitions. They include:
The County Championship is the domestic first-class cricket competition in England and Wales. All of the first-class counties compete in a two-division league format.
Friends Provident Trophy
The Friends Provident Trophy is a one-day cricket competition in county cricket. In the current format, the 18 counties, plus Scotland and Ireland, are split into 4 groups of 5. Each team plays the other in the group home once and away once. The top two teams from each league then compete in quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final to decide the winner. The competition is played in the first half of the English cricket season.
Until 2006 , the competition was a straight knock-out competition involving thirty-two teams, including the minor counties. The competition was played through the whole English cricket season.
The National League, currently sponsored as the NatWest Pro40 League, is the second one-day cricket competition in English county cricket. The eighteen first-class counties compete in a two-league structure, where two teams are promoted and relegated each season. Games are 40 overs per side. The competition takes place in the second half of the English cricket season.
The Twenty20 Cup is a Twenty20 cricket competition contested by the eighteen first-class counties. The game is limited to 20 overs per side, and the emphasis is on fast action.
Minor counties cricket
The minor counties compete in their own separate competitions. The Minor Counties Cricket Championship consists of two leagues, with the minor counties split geographically. The ten sides in each division play each other once in a three day game. The winners of the two leagues then play to decide a champion. The MCCA Knockout Trophy is a one-day knock-out competition, with a final at Lord's.
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