First Class Cricket Format Explained | What Is It?

In this short guide, we will explain to all of you what is first class cricket format. Read on for complete details.

Nowadays, many of us have the same question about what first class cricket is. First-class cricket is the format that was first introduced when the sports cricket was born in England. It is quite different from the limited-over cricket of recent times. Also, there are some basic differences in the rules and laws between the limited over and the first-class format. However, there is a natural uniqueness in this format that makes it far from others.

What is First Class cricket?

First-class cricket is the most aged form of cricket. As opposed to limited-overs games, you will see players playing with a red ball over 3 or more days. The format of cricket is typically played between 2 teams having 11 players on each side officially known as the first-class. Although in the practice session, a team might only play 1 innings, the matches must allow for the sides to play maximum 2 innings each.

While first-class players and their teams take part in other forms of cricket such as 50 overs, T-20, and the historic single wicket, those forms are not called first-class even if of equal importance. Test cricket is itself the highest standard of the sport. It is purely a form of first class cricket. Generally, the term “first-class” is used to refer to domestic cricket competitions only, but a cricketer’s first-class statistics include his Test match performances.

The first-class matches are played 11-a-side but there have been exceptions too. Equally, although first-class matches are now scheduled to have at least 3 days span, there have historically been exceptions. Just to run according to the time of first-class competition, the cricketers are mostly paid professionals, though historically many international cricketers were known as amateurs. First-class teams are the representatives of geo-political regions such as an Australian or Indian state, an English county, a New Zealand province, or a West Indian country.

The history behind Frist class cricket:

Since the 1960s, limited-over matches have been played on an official basis only. Before that, first class cricket was the only form of cricket. The thought of playing a one-inning match has been in minds since cricket was first played.

Rolling forward, 2 innings match started to prevail, and, while none can be sure truly that when ‘first class cricket’ was used, it has been coined for much of the 19th century. We might be sure that the first recorded use of the term was dated 1895. From that stage onwards, many first-class tournaments were held.

Officially, in the year of 1947 the phrase ‘first class cricket’ was first introduced. It was established by the ICC to determine the higher levels of professional cricket worldwide. While it was not explained retrospectively, we can be ensured that the domestic tournaments would have been considered to be first class from their inception onwards.

Domestic Competitions:

England – County Championship

The first-class tournament in England is known as the County Championship. Now, the 18 officially approved first-class sides are divided into 2 divisions. The champions of the first division are leveled as the County Champions while there is also a relegation and promotion system in place.

Australia – Sheffield Shield

The first-class premier competition in Australia is known as the Sheffield Shield. It was first conducted across the 1892-93 domestic season. That inaugural tournament featured just 3 State teams, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

New Zealand – Plunket Shield

The Plunket Shield is the premier first class cricket competition across the Tasman in New Zealand. It was first hosted in 1906-07 when it was named after the 5th Baron Plunket, who donated the trophy for the winners.

India – Ranji Trophy

The Ranji Trophy is known after the first Indian international cricketer ever. Although he played his test cricket for another nation-England, Kumar Sri Ranjitsinhji is a national icon. So, it is the reason that the major first-class tournament is named in his honor.

Pakistan – Quaid-e-Azam Trophy

The Quaid-e-Azam Trophy is the main first-class domestic cricket tournament in Pakistan. This is another competition that has gone through some changes in recent years. From the beginning of 2019-20, the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy has been contested by just 6 zonal teams.

Besides there are several nations that conduct domestic first-class cricket tournaments too-

  • West Indies – Regional Four-Day Competition
  • South Africa – 4-Day Domestic Series
  • Sri Lanka – National Super League (NSL)
  • Bangladesh – National Cricket League
  • Zimbabwe – Logan Cup
  • Afghanistan – Ahmad Shah Abdali 4-day Tournament
  • Ireland – Inter-Provincial Championship

Wrap Lines:

Cricket is all about skills and that will come from exact practice. Only first class cricket will provide that platform to get well-practiced on the pitch, whether it is domestic or international.

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