Lancashire’s title boost from the weather: Andrew Hignell

“Go West, young man. Go West and grow up with the country” – so wrote Horace Greeley, the famous American newspaper editor and politician in 1850, encouraging people to head away from the settlements on the eastern seaboard and to colonise the fertile plains inland to the west.

The same mantra could equally be applied this summer to Lancashire – the winners of Division One of the LV=County Championship in 2011 – following their decision to stage all of their home games in the four-day competition away from the headquarters at Old Trafford, as the Manchester ground underwent re-development and the re-alignment of the wickets.

In 2011 six Championship matches were staged to the west at Aigburth in Liverpool, one at Stanley Park in Blackpool, plus another at Southport. In previous years, Liverpool and Blackpool had each played host to an annual game, whilst the visit this summer to Southport was the first in the Championship since 1999 to the Trafalgar Road ground.

From a meteorological point of view, playing the bulk of Championship matches in Liverpool (annual rainfall – 775 mm) rather than in the Greater Manchester conurbation (annual rainfall – 806 mm) meant that Lancashire were, in theory, playing in drier areas, and away from a place where the wettest month of the year is often August.

As the table below shows, this westerly shift coincided with a dramatic drop in time lost to the weather at home games. In the period from 2000 until 2010, Lancashire lost an average of 44 hours when playing at home in the Championship – almost the equivalent to two entire four-day matches. In 2011, this was down to just 10.50 hours and without complete washouts on any day.

Year

Time lost at
Old Trafford
Time lost at
Blackpool
Time lost at
Liverpool
Time lost at
Southport
Time lost at
home
2000 22.75 - 2.25 - 25.00
2001 86.00 - - - 86.00
2002 35.75 - 0.75 - 36.50
2003 40.25 - 9.50 - 49.75
2004 35.50 - 4.00 - 39.50
2005 28.00 3.00 - - 31.00
2006 40.00 13.00 0.00 - 53.00
2007 28.00 0.00 9.00 - 37.00
2008 24.00 24.00 1.50 - 49.50
2009 36.25 - 6.00 - 42.25
2010 40.75 - 0.00 - 40.75
2011 - 0.00 10.50 0.00 10.50

Other factors also played a role, as Lancashire lost very little time when playing away from home – losing just 4.75 hours in matches at Chester-le-Street, Trent Bridge and Headingley Carnegie. The table below shows how this was a sizeable drop compared with the 33.75 hours which Lancashire lost in away matches in 2010, as well as the 51.25 hours in 2007 and the massive loss of 69.75 hours in 2000.

Year
Total time lost at home
Total time lost away
2000 25.00 69.75
2001 86.00 14.25
2002 36.50 24.50
2003 49.75 26.75
2004 39.50 27.25
2005 31.00 26.00
2006 53.00 15.75
2007 37.00 51.25
2008 49.50 46.50
2009 42.25 21.00
2010 40.75 33.75
2011 10.50 4.75

Therefore, it is impossible to say categorically that Lancashire’s Championship success was greatly assisted by playing more four-day games away from Old Trafford. It certainly helped, but the fact that Glen Chapple and his team were not prevented from getting on the field when away from home was also a factor.

Lancashire’s title triumph in the LV=County Championship came in a year in which, so far, overall precipitation levels have been below average. Indeed, Lancashire’s record for time lost in Championship cricket in 2011 mirrors these national trends with the Red Rose county losing just 15.25 playing hours, or 4%, out of a grand total of 384 hours of playing time.

As the table below shows, only Sussex, with 12.50 hours, lost less time than Lancashire, with the title of “raining champions” going to Middlesex who won the Division Two title despite losing 51.25 hours, or 13.34% of total playing time.

Nevertheless, the amount of time lost by Middlesex is still well below the figures which some sides have lost in previous years, including the 74.50 hours lost by Lancashire in 2010 and the total of 81 hours lost by Warwickshire in 2009.

Given the relative dryness of the 2011 season it was therefore somewhat ironic that all four semi-finals in both the Clydesdale Bank40 and Friends Life t20 should be affected by rain.

County Number of hours lost to the weather
Derbyshire 37.75
Durham 41.75
Essex 35.75
Glamorgan 33.35
Gloucestershire 35.00
Hampshire 46.25
Kent 23.00
Lancashire 15.25
Leicestershire 20.50
Middlesex 51.25
Northamptonshire 26.50
Nottinghamshire 44.25
Somerset 31.75
Surrey 21.75
Sussex 12.50
Warwickshire 21.75
Worcestershire 24.25
Yorkshire 32.25

About Andrew Hignell

Andrew Hignell was born in Gloucester, but raised and educated in Cardiff. He has supported Glamorgan Cricket since the early 1970s and was appointed the Club’s Statistician in 1982 and since 2004 has been their 1st XI scorer. Andrew has a doctorate in geography and taught for eighteen years before becoming Glamorgan’s scorer. Andrew has written over a dozen books on cricket and he is also the Secretary of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians.
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One Response to Lancashire’s title boost from the weather: Andrew Hignell

  1. Erez Schatz says:

    Seeing as the table is there to visualise the number of hours lost to the rain, why is it sorted by county name, rather than by Number of hours lost to the weather?