The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has unveiled a new and ambitious strategic plan with the goal of delivering successful England teams at all levels, producing a vibrant domestic game and increasing and enthusing participation during the period 2014-17.
The latest strategic plan - Champion Counties - has been designed to build on the outstanding success of the 2005 plan - Building Partnerships - and the subsequent 2009 initiative - Grounds to Play.
There were wins for Nottinghamshire, Essex, Sussex and a remarkable one inside two days for Worcestershire at Canterbury as round six of the LV= County Championship drew to a close. Alan Richardson was Worcestershire's familiar bowling star and took seven wickets in the Kent second innings.
Middlesex retook top spot in Division One of the LV= County Championship as they completed the anticipated thrashing of Somerset. Elsewhere, Yorkshire hammered defending champions Warwickshire, while Surrey's bowlers set up an intriguing final day at Trent Bridge.
There were good days for Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Middlesex, Sussex and Essex on the second day of matches in round six of the LV= County Championship. Among those putting in starring roles were Ravi Bopara, Tim Murtagh, Michael Yardy, Andrew Hall and Adil Rashid.
The rain largely stayed away from the country's cricket grounds to allow round six of the LV= County Championship to get underway. All six teams who won the toss unexpectedly decided to bowl under cloudy skies, but the batsmen didn't fare too badly on the whole. Only Warwickshire were routed - for 128 by Yorkshire - with plenty of half-centuries on offer elsewhere.
We preview the sixth round of matches in the LV= County Championship which get underway tomorrow, with Surrey's trip to Trent Bridge and Middlesex's to Taunton the picks of the action.
Take a look at the stats below to see how the counties have gone head to head in the recent past and try and beat the bookies during the round of county matches that start tomorrow (15th May).
Glamorgan have hosted Essex 10 times in the two tier County Championship era (W1, L2, D7). The seven draws include four stalemates in the last four meetings in Wales.
Rain decimated the day's Yorkshire Bank 40 action, with the matches at Derby, Cardiff, Bristol and Edgbaston all ending in no results, three with not a ball bowled. At Derby, three overs were possible, with the home side reaching 12 without loss.
Rain ruined much of the day's LV= County Championship action as the three concluding matches at Edgbaston, Bristol and Worcester ended in draws. The weather, however, wasn't able to save Yorkshire's bowlers in the Yorkshire Bank 40 as it was sixes that rained from the bats of the Somerset batsmen at Headingley.
There was high drama in both of the day's concluding LV= County Championship matches, with Yorkshire almost pulling off the unthinkable against Somerset and arch rivals Lancashire doing just that against Essex. Elsewhere, Ryan Buckley marked a memorable debut by dismissing a Graeme Smith-less Surrey for just 237 on day one at The Oval.
Rain significantly shortened play in all five LV= County Championship matches today as, coupled with a strong wind, it made conditions unpleasant for first-class cricket. Sam Robson did have time to hit a career-best 215 not out against a depleted Warwickshire attack, while Yorkshire's and Leicestershire's bowlers made inroads in their matches.
Rain played it part in the LV= County Championship today, but Sam Robson still found time to complete his second century in as many matches, while Jimmy Adams led a partial Hampshire recovery in Division Two at Bristol and Essex edged ahead at Old Trafford.
Centuries from Gary Ballance, Adil Rashid and Graham Napier helped Yorkshire and Essex recover from perilous positions against Somerset and Lancashire as the LV= County Championship resumed after the Bank Holiday weekend break for the Yorkshire Bank 40.
There were wins for Durham, Surrey, Gloucestershire and Glamorgan in the Bank Holiday Yorkshire Bank 40 matches, as well as a nail-biting one-run win for Kent over Warwickshire at Edgbaston. In the tour match, New Zealand's pace duo of Neil Wagner and Doug Bracewell proved just too hot for the Derbyshire batsmen as they slumped to defeat.
There were starring roles for Marcus Trescothick, Peter Trego, James Taylor, Daryl Mitchell and Samit Patel among others as the batsmen made the most of the first full round of one-day cricket in 2013 to plunder the nation's bowling attacks. Meanwhile, on the final day of the London Derby at Lord's, there was a ninth double-hundred for recently recalled Australian opener Chris Rogers.
There was a winning start for Leicestershire in the Yorkshire Bank 40 thanks to rapid centuries from their openers, captain Josh Cobb and wicket-keeper Niall O’Brien. Meanwhile, at Lord's, Middlesex's opening pair of Chris Rogers and Sam Robson also both reached three figures after they had been asked to follow-on by Surrey.
There more was joy in cricket's northern heartlands today as Lancashire followed up Yorkshire and Durham's triumphs yesterday with one of their own at Colwyn Bay. Elsewhere, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire completed wins over Kent and Leicestershire.
There will be plenty of beer consumed in northern England tonight after Yorkshire and Durham both pulled off unexpected wins on the final day of their matches. It can't be too often that a man carries his bat for 270 and sees his team lose by an innings but that is precisely what happened at Headingley thanks to Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Jack Brooks. Durham's win against Nottinghamshire came courtesy of a run chase that wouldn't disgrace a Twenty20 game, with Mark Stoneman and Phil Mustard the stars in their victory.
There was a backs-to-the-wall win for a beleaguered Essex on the third day at Chelmsford as they chased down their target of 143 despite being reduced to 31 for six. Elsewhere, Jonny Bairstow ad Joe Root made huge scores against Derbyshire; Durham manoeuvred themselves into a good position against Nottinghamshire; and Gloucestershire's lower-order mounted a stirring fightback at Grace Road.
Chesney Hughes almost broke a century-old record on the second day in Leeds, but was left stranded four short of George Davidson's 274 scored in 1896. Elsewhere, Essex took a slender lead over Hampshire, Leicestershire were saved by Shiv Thakor and Matthew Boyce against Gloucestershire and Will Smith bit a welcome century for Durham at Trent Bridge.
Round four of the LV= County Championship began today with matches at Trent Bridge, Headingley and Chelmsford. Chesney Hughes was the day's star performer - the Anguilla-born all-rounder hitting a career-best 171 on his return to the Derbyshire side. Elsewhere there were runs for James Taylor and Steven Mullaney and wickets for David Masters and Reece Topley.
Rikki Clarke and Oliver Hannon-Dalby were the stars in the final hour at Taunton as Warwickshire took the three points from a sensational draw to go second in Division One. We also look ahead to the fourth round of LV= County Championship fixtures which begin tomorrow.
Poor second innings batting performances from Derbyshire and Essex handed Middlesex and Northamptonshire victories with a day to spare in the LV= County Championship. Elsewhere, Warwickshire look destined for a win against Durham, with a potentially interesting final day in store in Cardiff.
Former Essex and Kent cricketer Mike Denness, who played for Scotland and captained England, has passed away aged 72 after a long battle with cancer.
Denness, a right-hand batsman, made his England debut in 1969, going on to play 28 matches, 19 of them as captain. He played the majority of his career for Kent before moving to Essex in 1977, retiring in 1980.