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 large numbers of matches being played on days other than Sunday.

Sunday League

The Sunday League was launched in 1969, as the second one-day competition in England and Wales alongside the Gillette Cup (launched in 1963). Sponsored by John Player & Sons, the league was called John Player's County League (1969), the John Player League (1970–83), then the John Player Special League (1984–86). The 17 counties of the time played each other in a league format on Sunday afternoons throughout the season. These matches were concise enough to be shown on television, with
BBC2 BBC Two is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network owned and operated by the BBC. It covers a wide range of subject matter, with a remit "to broadcast programmes of depth and substance" in contrast to the more mainstream an ...
broadcasting one match each week in full until 1980, 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 replaced John Player Special as the sponsor of the competition, called the Refuge Assurance League, in 1987. In 1988 they introduced an end-of-season play-off competition known as the Refuge Assurance Cup. The top four teams of the league season qualified for this competition, with the first-placed team playing the fourth and the second-placed team playing the third, and the winners of these matches meeting in a final at a neutral venue. This competition lasted until 1991. On Friday 5 July 1991,
Somerset ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England , established_date = Ancient , established_by = , preceded_by = , origin = , lord_lieutenant_office =Lord Lieutenant of Somerset , lor ...
Lancashire Lancashire ( , ; abbreviated Lancs) is the name of a historic county, ceremonial county, and non-metropolitan county in North West England. The boundaries of these three areas differ significantly. The non-metropolitan county of Lancashi ...
Taunton Taunton () is the county town of Somerset, England, with a 2011 population of 69,570. Its thousand-year history includes a 10th-century monastic foundation, Taunton Castle, which later became a priory. The Normans built a castle owned by the ...
in the first Sunday League match not to be played on a Sunday. The Sunday League was not sponsored in 1992 ( Durham making its debut in the competition this season), 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 in England to be played in coloured clothing and with a white ball. The following season the competition reverted to 40 overs per innings. On Wednesday 23 July 1997
Warwickshire Warwickshire (; abbreviated Warks) is a county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, and the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon ...
played Somerset at
Edgbaston Edgbaston () is an affluent suburban area of central Birmingham, England, historically in Warwickshire, and curved around the southwest of the city centre. In the 19th century, the area was under the control of the Gough-Calthorpe family a ...
in the first competitive county game to be played under floodlights.

National League

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 Norwich Union was the name of insurance company Aviva's British arm before June 2009. It was originally established in 1797. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. On 29 April 2008, Aviva ...
. 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 was determined in a play-off game between the team third from top in the second division and third from bottom team in the first.


In July 2009, the ECB unveiled plans for a revamped county structure involving three competitions, one of which would replace both the Pro40 and the Friends Provident Trophy. On 27 August 2009, this new competition was announced as a 40-overs-per-innings tournament, similar to the Pro40. The ECB 40, also known as the Clydesdale Bank 40 for sponsorship reasons, would serve as one of the three competitions in county cricket for the next four years, along with the
County Championship The County Championship (referred to as the LV= Insurance County Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the domestic first-class cricket competition in England and Wales and is organised by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). It bec ...
and the Friends Provident t20.


Division 1 teams in 2009: * Durham Dynamos * Essex Eagles * Gloucestershire Gladiators * Hampshire Hawks * Nottinghamshire Outlaws * Somerset Sabres * Sussex Sharks * Worcestershire Royals * Yorkshire Carnegie Division 2 teams in 2009: * Derbyshire Phantoms * Glamorgan Dragons * Kent Spitfires * Lancashire Lightning * Leicestershire Foxes * Middlesex Panthers * Northamptonshire Steelbacks * Surrey Brown Caps * Warwickshire Bears


National League

Sunday League

AXA League AXA Life League AXA Equity & Law League Sunday League John Player Special League John Player League John Player's County League

Tournaments won by county

See also

* National League Division One in 2005 * National League Division Two in 2005 *
County Championship The County Championship (referred to as the LV= Insurance County Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the domestic first-class cricket competition in England and Wales and is organised by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). It bec ...
– the domestic first class competition in England and Wales * Friends Provident Trophy (formerly C&G Trophy) – the one-day knock out competition * Twenty20 Cup – the short-form competition


External links

ECB Natwest Pro40 website

Warwickshire v Somerset July 1997 – Electronic Telegraph
{{English cricket seasons English domestic cricket competitions Recurring sporting events established in 1969 Recurring sporting events disestablished in 2009 List A cricket competitions NatWest Group