The LV= Insurance County Championship will return to two divisions next season following a vote by the chairs of the 18 First-Class Counties, with Derbyshire placed in Division Two.
The 2012 winners of the second division are joined by local rivals Nottinghamshire, as well as Durham, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Sussex and Worcestershire.
The return to a two-division LV= Insurance County Championship, after two Covid-affected seasons, will see the competition move to the 10:8 structure that was agreed by the First-Class Counties prior to the pandemic.
2022 LV= Insurance County Championship structure:
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s role ahead of this week’s vote has been to facilitate discussions between the First-Class Counties and provide the options available to them.
The priority of those discussions has been to determine when and how a return to the two-division structure – featuring 10 counties in Division One and eight in Division Two as agreed by counties following the 2018 Domestic Playing Programme (DPP) – could best be achieved.
The process to transition to that structure had begun during the 2019 LV= Insurance County Championship. At the end of that season three counties were promoted from Division Two (Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire) while the last-placed Division One county (Nottinghamshire) was relegated.
A two-division LV= Insurance County Championship has, however, not taken place since then due to Covid-19.
It has always been the intention of the First-Class Counties and the ECB to return to the two-division structure at the earliest opportunity.
After the First-Class Counties voted to change the format of men’s first-class cricket in 2020 and 2021 to mitigate against the impact of Covid-19, this week’s vote also considered the option to play one further year of the seeded group structure that was successfully staged this summer.
Although there was support from counties to use the 2022 season as a way to step back to a two-divisional structure, there was not the two-thirds majority that was required under the ECB Articles.
The LV= Insurance County Championship will, therefore, be played in the new two-divisional structure from next season.
All you need to know about the 2022 LV= County Championship
There will be 10 counties in Division One and eight in Division Two with a two-up, two-down promotion-and-relegation system.
Each county will play 14 LV= Insurance County Championship matches.
The First-Class Counties decide on any changes to the structure of domestic competitions. The First-Class County chairs voted this week resulting in a return to two divisions from next summer.
Next summer will, therefore, be the first time the LV= Insurance County Championship had been played in two divisions since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
The First-Class Counties agreed this change to the structure of the LV= Insurance County Championship before the pandemic.
This agreement was made following the recommendation of the 2018 Domestic Playing Programme review, which was chaired by then Leicestershire CEO Wasim Khan.
That recommendation was to change the structure of the LV= Insurance County Championship so that 10 counties would play in Division One and eight in Division Two – a 10:8 model.
The first steps were then taken to transition to the 10:8 model during the 2019 LV= Insurance County Championship season – when there were eight counties in Division One and 10 counties in Division Two.
At the end of that season three counties were promoted from Division Two (Lancashire, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire) while the last-placed county in Division One (Nottinghamshire) was relegated.
There has, however, not been a two-division LV= County Championship since due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The three counties that were promoted at the end of the 2019 LV= County Championship (Lancashire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire) will be given the opportunity they earned to play in Division One. They will join the seven counties that were not relegated in 2019.
Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire, Yorkshire
Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Worcestershire.
Results from the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy and the 2021 LV= Insurance County Championship could not be included in the qualification criteria for next season.
When the First-Class Counties voted to change the format of this year’s LV= Insurance County Championship there was no agreement that those results would determine qualification for a return to a two-division structure.
The ECB is aiming to announce fixture no earlier than the end of November.
The ECB is very keen to retain the Bob Willis Trophy in some capacity and to continue to honour Bob’s legacy, however it’s unlikely that there will be an end-of-season showpiece match as seen in 2020 and 2021.