- County Championship set to return next summer in a group-stage format
- First-Class counties agree structure for 2021 season
- Total red-ball matches to remain at 14 per county
- Counties have been placed into three seeded groups of six teams
- Nottinghamshire to contest group one alongside Essex, Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire and Durham
- The top two teams in each group to progress to Division One. The Division One winner to be crowned county champions.
- The top two teams in Division One to compete for the Bob Willis Trophy in a five-day Lord’s final
Nottinghamshire have been paired with Essex, Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire and Durham in the initial stages of a 14-match County Championship campaign, following confirmation of the revised structure for the 2021 First-Class season.
The counties have agreed that next summer will welcome the return of the County Championship with an initial group stage format. The men’s First-Class season is then set to end with a showpiece five-day final to win the Bob Willis Trophy.
Each county has been placed into one of three seeded groups of six, in which they will be scheduled to play ten matches, five home and five away. The top two counties in each group at the end of the group stage 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 outright winners of the County Championship.
The top two teams in Division One will also earn the right to play in the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.
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 counties so 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.
“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.”
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 that county members and supporters can look forward to some of county cricket’s oldest rivalries resuming home and away next summer.
2021 County Championship Groups:
Group 1: Essex, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Durham
Group 2: Somerset, Hampshire, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Middlesex, Leicestershire
Group 3: Kent, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Glamorgan, Sussex
Playing conditions for the 2021 County Championship and the 2021 Bob Willis Trophy final remain under discussion and will be announced in due course.