County Championship back to two divisions

England's cricket County Championship will revert to its two division format in 2022.
England's cricket County Championship will revert to its two division format in 2022.

English cricket's County Championship will return to its old two-division format next year after two seasons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

The ECB said in a statement on Thursday that 10 counties will compete in division one and eight in division two with a two-up and two-down promotion-and-relegation system. Each county will play 14 games.

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 will play in 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 Championship, teams were initially split into three groups. The top two teams were placed in division one for the second phase of the competition, while the other 12 counties moved into divisions two and three.

Last month, Warwickshire beat Somerset to win the County Championship - their eighth title and first since 2012 - before 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, named after the late England paceman who died in 2019 - would continue in 2022.

Australian Associated Press