Season review: A tale of two Counties

Blog Opinion

The County Cricket season has, as it usually does, come and gone in a flash and as the stumps are drawn on yet another fascinating and absorbing year, supporters are left with nothing more to do than countdown the days until their side do it all again.

The County Cricket season has, as it usually does, come and gone in a flash and as the stumps are drawn on yet another fascinating and absorbing year, supporters are left with nothing more to do than countdown the days until their side do it all again.

Although the domestic game had to contend, albeit expectedly, with attention grabbing events – and <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/ashes-series-2013' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>complementary cricket betting odds</b></a> – such as the Ashes and Champions Trophy, the past five months have only underlined the competitiveness and unpredictability which provides the indispensable feeling of emptiness which accompanies the last week in September.

The conclusion may have been somewhat of an anticlimax, given both Championship titles had been wrapped and sealed prematurely, but what preceded the concluding set of fixtures was week-after-week of action-packed and dramatic cricket in all formats.

It was a season during which the dark horse came to the fore and prevailed. In fact, a fortune-teller would have done well to foresee a season which provided more twists, turns and unexpected results than previously witnessed.

There was elation and richly-deserved silverware for Durham and Division Two winners Lancashire while Nottinghamshire ended their twenty-four year one-day trophy drought in fine style.

However, the charming tale of Northamptonshire's unforeseen rise from laughing stock to Twenty20 supremos underscores the romance and appeal which the domestic game so often delivers on a yearly basis. It was a season beyond the Wantage Road faithful's wildest dreams.

Not only had David Ripley devised a formula for success with the white-ball but also transformed his side's fortunes in the Championship – arguably the county's finest season culminated with a return to the top-tier for the first time in a decade – all this just twelve months after a season which yielded fewer wins in all formats than any other side.

Unfortunately, for every triumph and story of elation, there are ones of stark contrast. But, the nature of county cricket allows those who suffered disappointment this time around, a shot at redemption and their own chance of success on the other side of winter.

While several counties will be left licking their wounds after a summer of underachievement and setbacks, the clouds are most certainly darkest over the south of London as the dust settles on another turbulent campaign at the Kia Oval.

Surrey have proved, a Twenty20 final appearance apart, that substantial investment in a bid to pave over the cracks and rights the wrongs is simply not the answer.

The influx of a plethora of international stars – Amla, Smith and Ponting included – rightly yielded a sense of optimism but the aforementioned names did little to warrant their sizable pay cheque as the club suffered relegation to the second-tier. Others, meanwhile, cashed in on <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/champions-league-20' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>competitive cricket odds at the Champions League Twenty20 in India</b></a>.

The second installment of the much talked about back-to-back Ashes series, which is on the horizon, will undoubtedly assist in alleviating the absence of the domestic game and in the process maintain our required dosage of cricket over those long winter months.

However, whether you're shivering from behind your blanket at Aigburth in April, perched on a deck-chair in Hove during July or devouring your sandwiches in Scarborough – almost every day, every game of the county cricket season has it's own appeal – this year was no different.

<b>Ryan Bailey</b>

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