1999/00 County Championships
Jamie Fleming reports:
Aaaah, the County Championships.
OK, so it's had a bit of a poor record of late, and it hasn't been the most widely supported competition on the circuit in recent years, but I'm happy to report that the 2000 season went a little way to changing all that.
A good turn-out and the dedication and enthusiasm of the players really made the difference this year. Eight counties each raised three pairs and it was an Eton bustling with activity that greeted spectators and players alike on 21st November 1999.
Each pool match was the best of two games, up to twelve points, a system designed to give everyone a decent scrap. But even so, some sides had easier runs than others.
A strong Buckinghamshire side came out top in Pool A, which also included Middlesex, Warwickshire and Sussex. Middlesex, who were only able to raise two pairs, scraped through into second place by the skin of their fives gloves by beating Warwickshire in a tight match fraught with tension (Middlesex only going through by virtue of points for and against - in the end there was only three points in it!).
In Pool B, Kent and Berkshire had less trouble, beating Cambridge and Suffolk convincingly. It was, however, great to see some of the University sides enthusiastically making the effort to get involved (although, regrettably, Oxford had to pull out at the last minute).
The semi-finals and the final were played on on a hand-bruisingly cold Sunday, 23rd January 2000. An in-form and motivated Kent team played a Middlesex side that were disappointing on the day, beating the defending champions by a convincing 3-0. Berkshire beat Buckinghamshire easily too, sweeping them aside in another 3-0 victory.
The final was hard-fought, but ultimately the boys from the garden of England came through strongly.
All in all, it was a gratifying and highly enjoyable tournament, which can only go from strength to strength over the coming years - once we've quashed the belief that players commitments to their club side supercede those of their county side!
Middlesex beat Sussex 2-1
Middlesex beat Warwickshire 2-1
Bucks beat Middlesex 2-1
Bucks beat Sussex 3-0
Bucks beat Warwickshire 2-1
Warwickshire beat Sussex 3-0
Berkshire beat Cambridgeshire 2-1
Berkshire beat Suffolk 3-0
Berkshire beat Kent 2-1
Kent beat Cambridge 3-0
Kent beat Suffolk 3-0
Cambridgeshire beat Suffolk 2-1
Kent beat Middlesex 3-0
Berkshire beat Buckinghamshire 3-0
Kent beat Berkshire 3-0