The ECB has announced that the First-Class Counties have agreed to a revised structure for the 2021 men’s first-class season.
The Chairs of the Counties have agreed to return to the County Championship group-stage format, with the season ending in the showpiece five-day Lord’s final to win the Bob Willis Trophy.
The announcement follows discussions between the ECB and First-Class Counties to help restart the County Championship, whilst mitigating against the impact of COVID-19 next summer. The agreed revised structure is for the 2021 men’s first-class season only.
The 18 First-Class Counties will play 14 County Championship matches each next summer across Group and Division stages.
ECB Chair, Ian Watmore, said: “Since starting in my new role last month one of my key priorities, as a huge supporter of red-ball cricket, has been to collaborate with the First-Class Counties so that we could confirm a structure for next summer’s men’s first-class season.
“I am delighted that the counties have been able to reach that agreement less than three weeks after Essex won the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.
“The success of that competition provides reassurance that this structure can help safeguard against any impact the global pandemic may have on next season while also ensuring the integrity of the County Championship.
“It must be stressed that this structure has been agreed for next season only and during 2021 we will review and consult with the counties and other stakeholders to decide the appropriate next steps for the men’s domestic structure in 2022 and beyond.”
Essex will defend both titles after the county won the 2019 County Championship and this summer’s Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.