Following the recent announcement that the Middlesex Championship has been amalgamated into the Middlesex County Cricket League (MCCL), which will now see all Saturday league cricket in Middlesex played under the same rules, in one newly restructured league system, the fixture list for the 2021 season has been released.
In the new MCCL structure there will be 23 different divisions, with, at the top of the pyramid, eight divisions in a top tier dedicated to club’s first eleven sides, then a second tier featuring a further six divisions of second eleven teams, with the leagues structure completed with a third tier comprising nine divisions of club’s third, fourth, fifth and even sixth elevens.
The top division has thrown up some intriguing opening day encounters, with the new season getting underway on Saturday 8th May 2021, with reigning champions Teddington taking on MCCL’s most successful club, eleven-time winners Ealing, whilst 2020 runners-up Richmond face last season’s bottom side Twickenham. 2019 champions North Middlesex travel to Brondesbury, whilst Crouch End host 2020 third place finishers Shepherds Bush and Finchley host Hampstead.
With no relegation or promotion in 2020, as a result of the Covid-19 shortened season, unbeaten Division Two champions Stanmore missed out on returning to the top-flight, however they’ll be keen to start well next summer against Wembley, whilst runners-up Harrow St. Mary’s kick off their campaign against Hornsey.
At the other end of the pyramid, the restructuring of the league has brought an array of new sides into the MCCL structure, with Actonians fifth eleven taking on Brondesbury fifths, Stoke Newington fourths taking on Friends United thirds, Highgate sixths up against Chiswick fifths and Winchmore Hill fifths hosting Winchmore Hill sixths in division seven of the third tier.
Chairman of the MCCL, Bob Baxter, commented:
“We are really looking forward to the newly structured MCCL getting underway next May, after all the disappointment of what has been a terrible year for the game and the country at large.
“To be welcoming so many new sides into the MCCL structure, for what promises to be the start of a new chapter for league cricket in Middlesex is really exciting, and whilst there are so many new clubs to get to know, I can’t wait to get around the county circuit over the season to meet the teams involved and welcome them to the league.
“With twenty three divisions, featuring sixth elevens from some clubs, there is clear evidence that the game is as strong as ever, and despite the difficulties of this summer the club network has come together and battled through it, and for that it should take enormous credit.
“My thanks go to everyone who has worked so hard to pull the new league structure together, and the announcement of the 2021 fixture schedule, combined with the increasingly encouraging news relating to Covid-19 vaccinations, gives me real hope and optimism that we can genuinely all start to look forward to a 2021 cricket season that represents something close to normality.
“We would welcome all cricket fans in the county to tune in to the MCCL Podcast, which brings you all the latest news from the MCCL, and features interviews with influential people within the county game, including Middlesex’s Head Coach, Stuart Law, in a recent edition.
“On the MCCL website you can listen in to the Podcast, including the latest edition which explains the newly formed MCCL structure and what we’ve all got to look forward to.
“We would also urge all cricket fans to get down to their local clubs to enjoy the action. There is so much cricket to enjoy around the county and it’s being played right on your doorsteps, so why not pop down, make yourself known and you’ll be sure to get a warm welcome. Who knows, you might even be convinced to dust off the old spikes and give the whites another outing.”