County Championship to revert to two-division format in 2022

The county championship will revert to a two-division format next year after two seasons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the England and Wales Cricket Council (ECB) announced on Thursday.

The ECB said in a statement that 10 counties will face off in Division 1 and eight in Division 2 with a two-and-two promotion and relegation system. The counties will play 14 games each.

The structure was agreed upon before the COVID-19 crisis, but counties voted to change the format of first-class men’s cricket in 2020 and 2021 to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

Under the new structure for 2022, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire and Yorkshire make up the Premier Division.

Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Worcestershire constitute the second division.

The ECB had announced a separate county championship red ball competition for the Bob Willis Trophy after its 2020 season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the 2021 County Championship, the teams were initially divided into three groups. The top two teams were placed in Division One for the second phase of the competition.

The remaining 12 counties moved to divisions two and three.

Warwickshire beat Somerset to win the County Championship – their eighth title and the first since 2012 – last month. [Warwickshire]

They then beat second-placed Lancashire in a flagship match at Lord’s to win the Bob Willis Trophy.

The ECB has not said whether the Bob Willis Trophy will continue into 2022.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bangalore; editing by Toby Davis)