Chris Waters: Why winning the County Championship is now nothing more than glorified lottery

THERE is no prouder achievement for a county cricketer than to be part of a County Championship title-winning team.

LOTTERY: Yorkshire's Adam Lyth and his team-mates celebrate winning the Division One County Championship at Trent Bridge, in 2014. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

Just ask those Yorkshire players who helped the club to the trophy in the 2014 and 2015 campaigns.

But although the Championship remains the competition that players most want to win, and the tournament that traditional cricket supporters most want to watch, it has been devalued to the extent that it is now little more than a glorified lottery.

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So much so, it would seem as much down to luck and external factors as it is an accurate reflection of the strength of the respective clubs, while the variables of weather are invariably more pronounced when the tournament is squeezed into the margins of the season to make way for more white-ball cricket.

On paper, Yorkshire would probably win the Championship every summer.

At full strength, they could field a side that includes more England internationals than you could shake a copy of The Yorkshire Post at, having produced more than any other county in recent times.

In reality, though, they hardly see such players from one day to the next, with the likes of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow rarely around, and with Liam Plunkett and David Willey infrequently available.

Throw in the conflicting priorities of T20 franchise cricket, England Lions call-ups, England Under-19 call-ups, and so on, and Yorkshire hardly know who will be available from one day to the next.

Called up: Yorkshire's Matthew Fisher. Picture: Simon Hulme

Take the latest case of Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Matthew Fisher, who have been chosen for the forthcoming England Lions tri-series against India A and West Indies A.

Batsman Kohler-Cadmore and pace bowler Fisher will miss the next two Championship matches as a result of their call-ups for a series that runs from next Friday to July 2.

Although everyone at Yorkshire is delighted for the duo, not least those players who will fill their shoes for the matches against Hampshire at Southampton and Surrey at Scarborough, it is just another example of how the sport has made a mockery of the Championship.

Following some brilliant displays in the Royal London Cup, Kohler-Cadmore would have been a shoo-in for a place in the Championship side, while Fisher would have been a similarly important asset – not least in the absence of the aforementioned Root, Bairstow, Plunkett and Willey, who are on one-day duty against Australia.

Of course, the fixture schedule is a mess, to the point that there is no turning back owing to the greed and myopia of cricket’s administrators, and all of these matches have to be squeezed in at some point.

It is no more a fault of the players than it is of the county coaches, who are left to pick up the pieces as spectators suffer.

If Yorkshire can casually lose two of their brightest young talents at a key stage of the season, with the club needing a good return from their next two matches to ignite their Championship challenge, then it highlights how title wins now are the luck of the draw.

The tournament has become little more than the cricketing equivalent of the National Lottery.