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    We look to the past for a solution to the draw issue in the County Championship
We look to the past for a solution to the draw issue in the County Championship
The County Championship needs to produce more results. Source: telegraph.co.uk

We look to the past for a solution to the draw issue in the County Championship

This season, ties have resulted in 60% of Division One county matches, compared to 70% in Division Two.

In general, the first six weeks of the 2017 Championship season have been filled with shady drama. Surrey and Stasis have ruled supremely. Out of 25 matches, 60% of Division One matches have resulted in draws, and the majority have never reached a resolution.

Seventy per cent of Division Two games have resulted in draws (14 of 20). Seven counties have drawn four of their five matches in the combined two divisions, while Leicestershire has drawn all five. The ball won't carry slip on sluggish surfaces if the Championship needs to start in the midst of spring showers, and most games will miss entire periods due to rain.

The Kookaburra ball and pitches designed for batting are what our red-ball heavyweights, Rob Key, Brendon McCullum, and Ben Stokes, want, forcing bowlers to either bowl quickly or rip it. Okay, that's OK. To liven up this dish, though, something needs to be done: If every match is like the one at Lord's when Middlesex scored 553 for two against Northamptonshire's 552 for six declared, championship cricket will deteriorate and die.

Regaining points for an early lead in a tied game is one way to solve the problem, at least a partial one.

Preserve bonus points essentially the same, but do not award eight points (half of the 16 points for a win) to a county that labours its way down to 500 in a pointless attempt to catch their opponents at 600.

Following the 1967 season, the County Championship did away with points awarded for leads in the first innings. Up until then, a county would receive eight points for winning and four points for leading in the first inning of a game that ended in a tie.

Reintroducing this antiquated system is necessary but with changes. The county that had an early lead in the game but ultimately lost was the one to retain those points. That can't be accurate. The losing county should not receive half as many points as the winning side in a Championship match that is played out and ends in a tie just because it won the first innings. In a drawn match, points should only be given for winning the first innings since the winner has already won half of the contest.

Bonus points were developed in 1968 to take the role of points for a first-inning lead. It's funny to see how quickly the Championship was run back then, given the growth of the game and the fact that a county can today receive five bonus points for reaching 450 in 110 overs.

A county could score one point for a total of 175; two points for 200; and three points for scoring 225 in the first eighty-five overs. The batting teams seldom achieved anything like this frenetic pace of scoring. None of the 28 counties that participated in the championship games averaged more than two batting points per contest.

Nottinghamshire demonstrated the most level of initiative when using the bat, amassing 53 batting points over their 28 matches. Garfield Sobers, their new captain, was an ambitious one. They scored six runs at bat against Essex in a single home game! Yes, in 85 overs, they did really hit 300.

In 1968, four counties failed to score one batting bonus point on average in each game. As unbelievable as it may sound to Ovalites now, Lancashire and Surrey were content to block for the first 85 overs. In 28 games, Middlesex amassed a season-high 21 batting points; however, their batsmen had to cope with a ridge at the Nursery end for half of those games.

As Wisden put it, “Some counties either did not or could not appreciate the benefits of the change and suffered accordingly.” It was a fair description.

With some more work to be done, the Championship's run-scoring rate rose from 41 per 100 balls in 1967 to 43 in 1968 overall thanks to the new motivation. Despite 12-a-side matches being out of favour in Victorian times, quite a few IPL innings this season have had a scoring rate above 200 runs per 100 balls.

Allowing an infinite number of batting points to be scored in the first 110 overs would be more of a tickle than a significant alteration to the current Championship system. Why limit yourself to five batting points (one for 250, two for 300, three for 350, and four for 400) when you can score 450 points? Given that England's Test batters aim to score five runs every over, a county ought to receive seven points for reaching 550.

And maybe increase the number of bonus points from the first 110 to the first 120 overs. Spinners will have more opportunities the longer a side bats.

Either way, these are two suggestions to inject some life into the draws that are currently dominating the Championship. Anything has to be preferable to earning eight points for merely showing up.

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