Minimum overs in County Championship cricket

Before 1984, there was no required minimum number of overs in a day of County Championship cricket, although the minimum 20 overs in the ‘last hour’ had applied since 1968.

In 1984, a minimum requirement of overs per day was introduced, based on a required rate of 18 overs per hour of scheduled time (6.5 hours on the first two days and 6 hours on the last day), but keeping the 20 overs in the last hour. The actual time usually taken to complete this minimum was much longer than the scheduled time, and it was soon decided to reduce the requirement for 1985, and then further for 1986, to 17 overs per hour, including the last hour. The rate was dropped further to 16 overs per hour in 1996, by which time all County Championship matches were scheduled for four days. In 2008, the scheduled time for the first three days was reduced from 6.5 to 6 hours, with provision to make up time lost on any of those days. The actual minimum number of overs thus required is shown in the following table:

SeasonsOvers per hourOvers per dayOvers per day
(before last day)(last day)
198418117110 (a)
1985 ? (b)112105 (c)

(a) Still 20 overs in the final hour.
(b) The basis for the figure 112 was not reported in Wisden. It appears that the minimum requirement for each day was simply reduced by 5 overs from 1984.
(c) We have not been able to find this figure in Wisden. It was taken from a printed match scorecard.

It should be noted that some matches were played to non-standard playing hours, and from 2017 onwards there was some provision for time lost to be carried forward to later days. The effects of such rescheduling are not shown in the table.

Pelham Barton, November 2021

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