OTHER than before the start of play this morning, Yorkshire and Sussex should steer clear of rain at Hove over the weekend.

And that means, for just the second time all season, the White Rose might end up with a result in their Vitality County Championship Division Two campaign.

Other than a loss to Middlesex at Lord’s, Yorkshire have drawn every red-ball game so far, meaning they are only 18 points off top despite no wins in five.

But that is hardly surprising, given that four other sides in the eight-team league have drawn four of their opening five games, while Leicestershire are third without winning or losing yet.

To an extent, tactics have not always been perfect and Yorkshire will feel they could have finished a couple of their opponents off.

Nor did a Kookaburra wholly unsuited to giving a fair contest between bat and ball help in the opening two rounds, which produced just one win (Essex beating Nottinghamshire) in 16 matches across both divisions.

But the main issue has undoubtedly been the weather, and it leads to questions over why the County Championship is scheduled when it is.

It gets played in April and May, then bar a couple of games, we don’t see it again until nearly September.

It makes a mockery of a summer game when it’s premier red-ball competition, in existence since way back in 1890 and an institution of English sport, gets played largely in early-spring and then into autumn.

The issue has been brought into focus even more this year, in slightly unfortunate circumstances, with an incredibly wet past six weeks making a complete mess of most Championship games.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The chances of a result in this game between Yorkshire and Derbyshire last month basically disappeared after day three was wiped out by the weather. The chances of a result in this game between Yorkshire and Derbyshire last month basically disappeared after day three was wiped out by the weather. (Image: Ray Spencer.)

But as climate change and global warming continues to get worse and extreme weather patterns become more frequent, chances are this rain-ravaged start to the Championship campaign won’t be a one-off.

We’ve seen it affect the leagues around the district too. Many Bradford Premier League sides did not play their opening matches until May, while several organisations had to postpone the first fortnight of fixtures.

But at least those sides do not have a fixture list overly cluttered with problems, given cup matches are always played on Sundays.

That leaves Saturdays free for the league only, so in the case of the Bradford League’s league competition, in existence since 1903, its proud traditions and standing remains largely unaffected.

But as for the County Championship, not only does it have the Vitality Blast, the Metro Bank One Day Cup and The Hundred to contend with, but there are a litany of franchise competitions, like the IPL, and international commitments which hamper squad selection.

There has been plenty of noise from senior PCA members, which include Yorkshire’s bowling all-rounder Jordan Thompson, that there is too much cricket scheduled at present for county players, and it is hard to disagree.

The problem is more nuanced than what many propose, which includes scrapping The Hundred and preventing players from taking franchise opportunities abroad, especially when, like the Indian Premier League, they coincide with the English season.

The problem is, money talks, and the salary on offer for players taking up a two or three-month stint in the IPL vastly exceeds anything they will earn from their county contract.

Cricket, like most sports, is not a long career, maybe 15 or 20 years, and unlike top-level footballers, these players are not going to be set for life with the money they receive from being a county pro.

Those opportunities to play franchise cricket, if they come about, can offer players life-changing sums, or at the very least, enough to give them plenty of time to consider their next move, career-wise, after retirement.

And The Hundred is the competition that makes the ECB the most money, which in turn helps fund the counties, which in turn helps them survive.

What’s the solution then? Is there a way of repackaging The Hundred where it absorbs the Blast, and becomes one competition instead of two?

But so counties don’t lose the essence of T20 cricket altogether, have the franchises retain a quota of club players (so the Northern Superchargers squad contains at least say six from Yorkshire and six from Durham), while being free to sprinkle international stardust on top of that.

And also divide the games up between the grounds that fit under a team’s catchment.

London Spirit’s linked counties are Essex, Middlesex and Northamptonshire for example, so why are their home games only at Lord’s, not at Chelmsford or Wantage Road?

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: London Spirit (blue) batting against Northern Superchargers at Lord's last year.London Spirit (blue) batting against Northern Superchargers at Lord's last year. (Image: PA.)

Also the One-Day Cup almost gets forgotten about, and while I wouldn’t want to see it scrapped altogether, given a 50-over World Cup still exists and it has provided several young players with their county breakthrough over the last few years ago, why not look at what we can do there?

How about doing what rugby league did with the Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup this year, and put it towards the start of the season, and move the Championship start back to May?

Keep the games two or three days apart, with one in-built reserve day to factor rain in?

One less competition, better scheduling and easing burnout. It won’t be a quick fix, but let’s make the County Championship great again.