ECB Board agrees new shape to county game

Monday 7th March 2016
& News
Written by Danny Painter

The domestic cricket season will have a new shape in 2017 after the ECB Board agreed changes to the season, following discussions with the First Class Counties.

The ECB Board has also asked the ECB Executive to look at all options for the best future structure to support the growth of the game and sustainability of all Counties.

From 2017,  there will be changes to the structure and timing of each of the three domestic competitions; NatWest T20 Blast, Specsavers County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup.

  • NatWest T20 Blast matches will be played in July and August, within two blocks, contested on a regional basis and culminating in Finals Day, as per the current format. This will make the best use of the summer holiday period to attract a wide family-based audience, encourage participation in the game and focus the skills of players.
  • Specsavers County Championship games will run throughout the summer and pause during blocks of limited-overs cricket. It will be played in two divisions – a top tier of eight and second division of ten – after one County has been promoted and two relegated this year. It will then revert to two-up, two-down. To ensure a focus on each format and create space in the domestic season, the competition will be reduced from 16 Championship rounds to 14. Each County will play seven home and seven away matches.
  • Royal London One-Day Cup group-stage matches will be played in April and May, with the showcase final at Lord’s in July. Group winners will go straight to Semi-Finals with second and third-placed teams entering quarter-finals. The competition will herald a big summer for the 50-over format with the ICC Champions Trophy and ICC Women’s World Cup staged in England and Wales next year.

Confirming the developments, Colin Graves, Chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board, said: “Today’s decisions follow a number of productive meetings with the Chief Executives and Chairmen of the First Class Counties. We’ve worked closely together, looking to improve the domestic structure for the good of the game.

“The changes for 2017 will be good for fans, players and our international teams.  The season is easier to follow, the blocks help players focus on specific skills and there’s a better balance across all three formats.

“There is a clear consensus that County cricket has to be sustainable and must support the whole game. There is an appetite for change and cricket is moving fast – we must not be left behind.

“Cricket needs more people playing, great teams and inspired fans in order to thrive; these principles support our plans now and for the future.”

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