Will Hawkes: Why weather gods could have final say in congested title race

County Focus: The west coast gets more rain than the east. Lancastrians have long grumbled it is the weather which has kept them from the title since 1950

If you want to know which way this title race is going, look up. With the battle for the pennant now into its final month, the key factor may not be playing heroics but just how much time each of the four sides in contention (Durham, Lancashire, Somerset and Warwickshire) get in the field. The weather forecast suggests there will be plenty of rain over the next month. If it does end up playing a key role then Warwickshire could be the team to watch: the county suffers fewer rain days in August and September than its three rivals for the title, according to Met Office figures (see panel, below).

Durham, too, might benefit, situated as they are on Britain's drier east coast. Generally speaking, the west coast gets more rain than the east, as anyone who has experienced the contrasting winter experiences in Glasgow (torrential rain) and Edinburgh (less rain, but bitterly cold) can tell you. Lancastrians have long grumbled that it is the weather, and not on-field deficiencies, that has prevented them winning the title since 1950. Certainly their record – eight titles, one of them shared – does not reflect the county's historic devotion to the game.

But then west-coast teams have generally done badly. Of the top five sides in the competition's history, four (Yorkshire, Surrey, Middlesex and Kent) are from the east with just Lancashire for west-coast company. Warwickshire, despite a huge population to draw from, have won just six pennants, which is one more than Worcestershire. Overall, the picture looks even grimmer: 80 outright titles for counties in the eastern half of the country, 21 for the west.

Of course, there are fewer first-class counties in the west (and some, notably the West Country sides, with smaller populations) but rain may have been a factor. Between 1864 and 2004, Lancashire drew more matches than any other county (1,170). Rain must have played a part in that: there's no reason to believe they would have drawn more than Yorkshire, for example, had it just been a matter of cricketing culture. A tough, unrelenting approach to the game is equally prevalent on both sides of the Pennines.

They will need plenty of that over the next few weeks, and forget about the weather. Actually, with their three rivals either in the west (Somerset, Warwickshire) or the far north (Durham) they are not at such a disadvantage as they would be if their rivals were Sussex, for example, as in 2007. Perhaps the clouds are lifting for the red-rose county.

Today, Worcestershire are the opponents, at Blackpool. Despite the Pears' admirable refusal to accept what seemed an inevitable relegation (they lie one place out of the drop zone having beaten Sussex last week), it's a perfect chance for Lancs to get their stuttering challenge back on the rails, especially given Blackpool's Stanley Park has been a welcoming home-from-home over the past 10 years.

Somerset, meanwhile, welcome Nottinghamshire to Taunton. Having started the season in dismal form, their campaign has gathered pace and they find themselves in a similar situation to 12 months ago, when they finished second in all three competitions. Three of their last four Championship games this year, though, will be played at home, with Lancashire the final visitors on 12 September. It could prove to be a crucial advantage.

Durham do not play this week and, although they lead the table, they've played one more match. Warwickshire's game against Hampshire at Edgbaston begins tomorrow and they have at least a game in hand on their rivals. Despite being fourth, they might just be favourites – that's if the weather gods decide to smile on them, of course.

Rain days per county

Durham//Lancashire/Somerset/Warks/England average

April 10.5/10.9/10/10/10.1

May 10.1/10.8/10.1/9.6/9.8

June 10.4/11.7/9.3/9.5/9.8

July 9.4/10.7/8/7.8/8.5

August 10.4/12.4 /9.5/8.7/9.4

Sept 10.4/12.9/10.7/9.3/10.2

Total 61.2/69.4/57.6/54.9/57.8

Figures shown long-term averages. A rain day is when over 1mm of rain falls

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil