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Matthew Fisher delighted with move back to two divisions

— 25 October 2021

Matthew Fisher has described the return to two divisions from 2022 in the LV= Insurance County Championship as “an important move”.

The Yorkshire fast bowler has given the thumbs up to the decision to move away from two seasons of Conference cricket, believing it will also benefit the England national team.

Fourteen Championship games will be played across two divisions of 10 teams (Division One) and eight (Division Two), with promotion and relegation returning.

The divisions will be made up on the placings had the 2020 summer gone ahead as normal.

That means Yorkshire will be in Division One alongside Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire and newly promoted trio Gloucestershire, Lancashire and Northamptonshire.

Division Two will comprise of Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Sussex, Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire, who were relegated at the end of 2019.

Not all teams in Division One will play each other twice, though it would be a surprise if, for example, Lancashire and Yorkshire did not play each other twice.

Fisher said: “I think you’re consistently playing the best teams with two divisions. Week in and week out, you want to test yourselves against the best.

“As much as every team can beat anyone with the Conferences, which was shown this year, it’s about playing the best cricket you possibly can every single week.

“That’s what two divisions provides.

“Every time I’ve played in Division One, every game is a real battle and a test.

“I think that’s the best way to go and also the best way to produce England cricketers.

“This is not just about looking at it from a county perspective, it’s nationally as well. When you have that sort of system, you can really tell who deserves to be playing for England.”

The Conference system had its advantages across the two years it was played, first in 2020 as a shortened regional competition and then in 2021 as a full national event.

The safety net of no relegation allowed many counties to blood young players.

Unfortunately, in the final stage of the 2021 competition, it proved to be a bit of a lottery as pitches were produced to ensure teams pushed for results.

Across the three divisions in the final stage of the competition, there were only six draws, including Hampshire v Yorkshire at the Ageas Bowl.

Fisher added: “The last four games in the Championship, there was no real consequence on losing.

“The way things worked out with the carrying of points, most teams simply had to win games. We were in that position. So you produce pitches to win games, which doesn’t always provide the best cricket.

“In the two divisions, I’m expecting pitches to be prepared better and to be more consistent. That should bring better cricket all summer round.”