County Championship to resume pre-Covid format of two divisions from next summer

The LV= Insurance County Championship will return to two divisions in 2022 after the 18 first-class clubs rejected the ECB’s proposal for one final year of conference cricket.

A fortnight ago at a meeting at Lord’s, 11 of the county chairs backed a repeat of the three group first-class structure used during the pandemic while five voted for the divisional system and two abstained.

Crucially that left the conference plan one vote short, as such changes require a two-thirds majority to be ratified, and the numbers once again fell shy of the 12 needed at this week’s second ballot.

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Warwickshire triumphed to win the County Championship in 2021 in its revised format

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As a result, next summer’s 14-match competition will be split in a 10:8 ratio across the divisions, with teams placed as they would have been in 2020 had mitigating against Covid-19 not triggered a re-jigging of the modern Championship look.

It means Lancashire, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire, the three teams promoted in 2019, join the top flight with Nottinghamshire dropping into Division Two.

Meanwhile, the Bob Willis Trophy will be moved from its end-of-season slot in 2022, and is unlikely to feature the top two sides in the county championship after concerns that this year’s game lacked context and meaning.

They also lifted the Bob Willis Trophy which will be moved from its end of season slot in 2022

Newly crowned champions Warwickshire thrashed second-placed Lancashire by an innings and 199 runs at Lord’s in a game that finished on October 1, leaving the ECB to work out how best to continue the fixture – and the charitable benefit it brings to the Bob Willis Fund – next summer.

Any decision will be taken after discussions with the former England fast bowler’s family. 

Possibilities include a start-of-season game at Lord’s between the champion county and a team of Test hopefuls, as well as a match between the best players from the north and south of the country.

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