WORCESTERSHIRE will be bidding for one of three promotion spots from the second tier of the County Championship next season after a dramatic revamp of the English game was approved by all 18 counties.
The current two-up, two-down system will return in 2020 but has been altered for one season to enable the creation of a 10 team top division as part of an overhaul to make room for the controversial new Hundred tournament.
Each team will continue to play 14 matches in both divisions of the four day game.
Cricket chiefs hope the change will provide an increase in security to Division One teams with a smaller percentage being relegated each season and increased opportunity for Division Two teams as they will have a greater percentage chance of promotion.
From 2020, the one day cup competition will be played in July and August alongside as the proposed new eight team hundred ball tournament.
No overseas players will be allowed to play in the one day cup which will see the counties split into two groups of nine with eight games per group.
The top three in each group will qualify for the knockout stages with the winners proceeding automatically to the semi-finals.
The Vitality Blast will retain its current format, with the counties split into North and South Groups of nine teams each and each team playing 14 fixtures – seven at home, and seven away. The top four will qualify for quarter finals, with the four winners qualifying for Finals Day at Edgbaston.
From 2020, a new round of 50-over fixtures will be played before the domestic one-day competition in mid-July, with each county visiting a minor county.
These proposals followed the appointment in the summer of the Men’s Domestic Playing Programme group (MDDP), chaired by Leicestershire chief executive Wasim Khan and drawn from different sections of the men’s county game and ECB.
The group was asked to consider four areas: the structure of the Specsavers County Championship, the number of fixtures in the Vitality Blast, the form of county cricket that should be played during the new competition and a possible involvement of the Minor Counties.
It met four times and held a series of consultations across the country to further canvas opinion across the county game. This led to the following four proposals, in turn supported by ECB’s Cricket Committee and now agreed to by the 18 counties.
“It was critical throughout the process to consider a programme that was underpinned by three key principles: supporting sustained success for England teams, maintaining a vibrant domestic game and recognising the importance of red ball cricket,” Mr Khan said.
“There were a number of areas up for discussion which showed the importance of extensively consulting with all 18 First-Class-Counties in a thorough and impartial process. We are very pleased that that there was unanimous support for a structure that will hopefully improve our domestic game and in turn the England teams.”
Gordon Hollins, ECB Chief Operating Officer, said: “It was important that the process took in the views of all the stakeholders in the domestic game, especially the counties.
“After receiving unanimous agreement we will move forward with plans that will help ensure that our domestic game remains as vibrant as possible while producing players to help our England teams remain successful.”