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Countries  England
Administrator England and Wales Cricket Board
Format Limited overs cricket
First tournament 1969
Last tournament 2009
Number of teams 18 – 2 leagues of 9
Current champion Sussex
Most successful Essex, Kent, Lancashire (5 titles each)
Website ECB Natwest Pro40 website

The NatWest Pro40 League was a one-day cricket league for first-class cricket counties in England and Wales. It was inaugurated in 1999, but was essentially the old 'Sunday League' retitled to reflect the fact that large numbers of matches were played on days other than Sunday.

Sunday League[edit]

The 'John Player Special League' was launched, in 1969, as the second one-day competition in England and Wales alongside the Gillette Cup. The 17 counties played each other in a league format on Sundays afternoons throughout the season. These matches were concise enough to be shown on television and BBC 2 broadcast one match each week in full until the 1980s and then as part of the Sunday Grandstand multi-sport programme. For close finishes for the title, cameras appeared at the grounds where the contenders for the title were competing and the trophy presentation to the victorious team would be on film.

'Refuge Assurance' became the new sponsors of the competition in 1987 and then in 1988 started an end of season play-off competition known as the 'Refuge Assurance Cup'. The top four teams of the season qualified with the top team playing the fourth placed team and the second and third place teams playing each other. The winners of each match met in a final at a neutral venue. This competition lasted until 1991. Somerset played Lancashire at Taunton on Friday 5 July 1991 to make the first Sunday League game not to be played on a Sunday.[1]

The Sunday League was not sponsored in 1992, but in 1993 'AXA Equity and Law' became the sponsor. The matches this season were 50 overs per innings. The first round of matches that took place on 9 May 1993 were the first official matches played in coloured clothing and a white ball in England. The following season the competition reverted to 40 overs per innings. On Wednesday 23 July 1997 Warwickshire played Somerset at Edgbaston. This game was the first competitive county game to be played under floodlights.[2]

National League[edit]

The National League was launched in 1999 with the 18 first-class counties split into two divisions with three teams promoted and relegated from each. The matches were played over 45 overs and the competition was sponsored by 'Norwich Union'. Matches were spread over the week rather than Sundays only.

The counties incorporated nicknames into their official names for the National League, from 2002. For example, Kent became the 'Spitfires', Middlesex the 'Crusaders' and Lancashire were the 'Lightning'. The following season the Scotland Saltires took part in the League until 2005.

The C & G Trophy was restructured, in 2006, from a knock-out competition to a round-robin league format, which took up the early part of the season. The National League was renamed the 'NatWest Pro40' and was played in the later part of the season with the teams playing each other once. Also, two teams instead of three were promoted to the first division and two relegated to the second division. A third promotion/relegation spot is determined in a play-off game between the team third from top in the second division and third from bottom team in the first.

Restructuring proposals[edit]

In 2008, it was decided that the league would be disbanded from 2010, in order to make way for a new Twenty20 tournament; the 'English Premier League'. However the proposed 'English Premier League' extra Twenty20 idea was abandoned in favour for an expanded Twenty20 Cup competition 'P20'.[3]

The ECB announced, on 27 August 2009, that in 2010 there will be a 40-overs per innings tournament replacing both the Pro40 and the Friends Provident Trophy. This along with the English County Championship and the Twenty20 Cup will be English cricket's three domestic competitions.[4]


Division 1 teams in 2009:

Division 2 teams in 2009:


National League[edit]

Season 1st Division Relegated 2nd Division Promoted
NatWest Pro40
2009 Sussex Not applicable Warwickshire Not applicable
2008 Sussex Middlesex, Lancashire Essex Yorkshire
2007 Worcestershire Warwickshire, Essex, Northamptonshire Durham Somerset, Middlesex[5]
2006 Essex Glamorgan, Durham, Middlesex Gloucestershire Worcestershire, Hampshire[6]
totesport League
2005 Essex Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Hampshire Sussex Durham, Warwickshire
2004 Glamorgan Warwickshire, Kent, Surrey Middlesex Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire
National League
2003 Surrey Leicestershire, Yorkshire, Worcestershire Lancashire Northamptonshire, Hampshire
Norwich Union League
2002 Glamorgan Somerset, Durham, Nottinghamshire Gloucestershire Surrey, Essex
2001 Kent Gloucestershire, Surrey, Northamptonshire Glamorgan Durham, Worcestershire
Norwich Union National League
2000 Gloucestershire Worcestershire, Lancashire, Sussex Surrey Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire
CGU National League
1999 Lancashire Warwickshire, Hampshire, Essex Sussex Somerset, Northamptonshire

Sunday League[edit]

AXA League

AXA Life League

AXA Equity & Law League

Sunday League

Refuge Assurance League

John Player Special League

John Player League

John Player's County League

Refuge Assurance Cup[edit]

Tournaments won by county[edit]

  • Essex 5
  • Kent 5
  • Lancashire 5
  • Worcestershire 4
  • Glamorgan 3
  • Hampshire 3
  • Sussex 3
  • Warwickshire 3
  • Leicestershire 2
  • Surrey 2
  • Derbyshire 1
  • Gloucestershire 1
  • Middlesex 1
  • Nottinghamshire 1
  • Somerset 1
  • Yorkshire 1
  • Durham 0
  • Northamptonshire 0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Benson and Hedges Cricket Year September 1990 to September 1991 – page 325.
  2. ^ Warwickshire v Somerset July 1997 – Electronic Telegraph
  3. ^ Counties could scrap 50-over cricket –
  4. ^ English game dumps 50 overs cricket – Cricinfo
  5. ^ Middlesex beat Northamptonshire in Play-Off match
  6. ^ Hampshire beat Glamorgan in Play-Off match

External links[edit]

Official website