First-class counties agree 2021 men’s domestic structure

First-class counties agree 2021 men’s domestic structure

Kent Cricket is set to compete for two red-ball titles next summer following confirmation that the first-class counties have agreed to a revised structure for the 2021 men’s first-class season.

The chairs of the first-class counties have agreed via a vote that next summer will welcome the return of the County Championship in a group-stage format. The men’s first-class season is then set to end with a showpiece five-day match at Lord’s to contest the Bob Willis Trophy.

Today’s announcement follows discussions between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the 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 are set to play 14 County Championship matches each next summer across both Group and Division Stages.

Each first-class 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 at the end of the Group Stage will progress to Division One, with the other counties moving into Divisions Two and Three respectively, 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 contest the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s.

Seedings for the Group Stage of the 2021 County Championship have been determined based on performances of the First-Class Counties 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.

Kent will take on neighbouring rivals Sussex in Group Three of the County Championship, as well as playing Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Lancashire; the first time Kent will have played the red rose county in the competition since 2015.

Playing conditions for the 2021 County Championship and the 2021 Bob Willis Trophy remain under discussion and will be announced in due course.

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