Cricket-County Championship to revert to two-division format in 2022

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - County Championship - Durham v Sussex - Emirates Riverside, Durham, Britain - April 11, 2019 Durham's Cameron Bancroft in action Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

(Reuters) - The County Championship will return to a two-division format next year after two seasons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Thursday.

The ECB said in a statement that 10 counties will compete in Division One and eight in Division Two with a two-up and two-down promotion-and-relegation system. Counties will play 14 games each.

The structure had been agreed before the COVID-19 crisis but counties voted to change the format of men's first-class cricket in 2020 and 2021 to mitigate against the impact of the pandemic.

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

Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Worcestershire make up Division Two.

The ECB had announced a red-ball competition separate from the County Championship for the Bob Willis Trophy after its 2020 season was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The other 12 counties moved into Divisions Two and Three.

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

They then beat second-placed Lancashire in a showpiece match at Lord's to lift the Bob Willis Trophy.

The ECB did not say if the Bob Willis Trophy - would continue in 2022.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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