The ECB have announced that the County Championship will revert back to the two-division system that was in place prior to the Coronavirus outbreak starting with the 2022 season.
What was the previous system?
These changes take place after a couple of years with a three-division system in 2020 before adopting a similar 3-tier conference which saw teams qualify for the Group stage of the 2021 season. Both seasons saw the Bob Willis Trophy final take place, the 2020 season saw the best 2 teams across the 3 groups play in the final with this year’s contest held between County Championship winners Warwickshire and runners-up Lancashire.
What will the new system be?
Starting next season, the divisions will be how the County Championship would have looked in 2020 if it wasn’t for the pandemic with Nottinghamshire, despite finishing in third place this year, relegated to Division 2 with Gloucestershire, Lancashire and Northamptonshire being promoted into Division 1 as there will be 10 teams and 8 teams in Division 1 and 2 respectively.
The ECB are hoping to announce the fixtures for the 2022 County Championship by the end of next month.
What are my thoughts on how the divisions have been decided?
I’m caught between 2 feelings about it: On one hand, the ECB have taken the divisions that would have started 2020 in the same format as the one that returns next season while on the other that ignores the red-ball cricket from the past couple of seasons – it’s harsh on Notts in particular but I’m not sure whether relegating someone else (it was Warwickshire that finished 2nd bottom in 2019 so the ‘fairest’ option to relegate would be Surrey in that case) is the right option.
Divisions In Full
Division 1: Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire, Yorkshire
Division 2: Durham, Derbyshire, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Worcestershire