Counties back exciting 2021 red-ball revamp - The Evesham Observer

Counties back exciting 2021 red-ball revamp

Evesham Editorial 20th Oct, 2020   0

WORCESTERSHIRE will compete for two red-ball titles next summer following confirmation the First Class counties have agreed to a revised structure for the 2021 men’s season.

The chairs of the First Class counties have backed a plan which will see the return of the County Championship next summer in a group stage format. The men’s first class season is then set to end with a showpiece five-day Lord’s final to win the Bob Willis Trophy.

Essex will seek to defend both titles after the county won the 2019 County Championship and this summer’s Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.

The agreed revised structure is for the 2021 men’s first class season only as cricket chiefs seek to plan ahead during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Counties are set to play 14 County Championship matches each next summer across group and division stages.

Each county has initially been placed into one of three seeded groups of six and will be scheduled to play five home, and five away, matches during the group stage.

The top two counties in each group will progress to Division One, with the other counties moving into Divisions Two and Three, where they will each play a further four matches.

The winner of Division One will be crowned the 2021 County Championship winners. The top two teams in Division One will also earn the right to play in the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.

Newly-appointed ECB chairman 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 we could confirm a structure for next summer’s men’s first class season.

“The success of that competition provides reassurance 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 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.”

Seedings for the group stage of the 2021 County Championship have been determined based on performances during the 2019 County Championship and the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy.

A provision to accommodate derby matches, only where appropriate within the seeding structure, into the groups has also ensured county members and supporters can look forward to some of county cricket’s oldest rivalries resuming home and away next summer.

The Pears will be in Group One alongside Essex, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Durham.

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