Essex can have the chance to defend two red-ball titles in 2021, after the first-class counties agreed to a revised league-based construction for subsequent season’s County Championship, adopted by a separate five-day showpiece last at Lord’s, by which the Bob Willis Trophy can be as soon as once more be at stake.
Essex are the present holders of each titles, having pipped Somerset to the County Championship in 2019 after securing a draw at Taunton on the ultimate day of the season, earlier than claiming the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy in opposition to the identical opponents at Lord’s final month, once more with a draw by which their first-innings lead proved to be the decisive issue.
The bulletins comply with discussions between the ECB and the chairs of the first-class counties, who’re looking for to mitigate in opposition to additional disruption from Covid-19 within the 2021 season. A full evaluation into the boys’s home construction is due in 2022, for which the prevailing break up of eight first-division groups and 10 in Division Two can be taken because the default place.
Not like this season’s short-term association, by which the 18 counties have been break up into three regional teams of six and performed a single fixture in opposition to every opponent earlier than the highest two groups progressed to the ultimate, subsequent 12 months’s competitors will characteristic three seeded teams, with 10 residence and away fixtures, adopted by an additional spherical of video games by which the highest, center and backside two of every group kind three new divisions, and play 4 additional video games in opposition to each other for a complete of 14 fixtures.
The highest crew on this newly configured Division One can be topped winners of the 2021 County Championship, and be awarded the normal Lord’s Taverners trophy, however the first and second-placed groups will then compete at Lord’s for the Bob Willis Trophy, in a repeat of the showpiece finale that capped the 2020 season. Enjoying circumstances for each competitions can be confirmed by the ECB sooner or later.
Seedings for the Group Stage of the County Championship have been decided primarily based on the 18 groups’ performances prior to now two seasons, whereas a provision for native derby encounters has additionally been factored in (the place it doesn’t lower throughout the seeding) to allow Surrey and Middlesex, Yorkshire and Lancashire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire, and Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to compete in the identical preliminary teams.
Ian Watmore, the brand new chairman of the ECB, defined the reasoning behind the restructuring. “Since beginning in my new function final month certainly one of my key priorities, as an enormous supporter of red-ball cricket, has been to collaborate with the First-Class Counties in order that we might affirm a construction for subsequent summer season’s males’s home season,” he mentioned.
“I’m delighted that the counties have been in a position to attain this settlement lower than three weeks after Essex gained the Bob Willis Trophy last at Lord’s.
“The success of that competitors supplies reassurance that this construction will help safeguard in opposition to any impression the worldwide pandemic could have on subsequent season whereas additionally making certain the integrity of the County Championship.
“It have to be pressured that this construction has been agreed for subsequent season solely and through 2021 we’ll evaluation and seek the advice of with the counties and different stakeholders to resolve the suitable subsequent steps for the boys’s home construction in 2022 and past.”
2021 County Championship Teams
Group 1: Essex, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Durham
Group 2: Somerset, Hampshire, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Middlesex, Leicestershire
Group 3: Kent, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Glamorgan, Sussex