Red-ball Bob Willis Trophy kicks off domestic campaign on Aug 1
The men’s domestic season will begin with a first-class competition on Aug 1 which will be called the Bob Willis Trophy.
A majority of county chairmen voted yesterday to play a red-ball tournament this summer after the clubs had previously disagreed about whether to take that route or play one-day matches, in addition to the lucrative Twenty20 Blast competition.
As The Daily Telegraph revealed in March, the domestic season will run until October for the first time.
The new fixture list will be confirmed in the coming days and will feature a first-class competition played in three regional groups, with the two best-placed teams meeting in the final at Lord’s.
It will be named after Willis, the former England fast bowler and commentator, who died last December.
The tournament will replace the County Championship, which will not be played this year. Counties believe that it would be unfair to have promotion and relegation and an official championship winner in such a truncated season.
The T20 Blast – the chief revenue-earner for counties – will begin on Aug 27, and will be played in the same three regional groups. The group winners, and best-placed runner-up, will then proceed to Finals Day.
Counties are making the case that cricket is uniquely suited to allowing some crowds in and could act as a test case for spectators being reintroduced for live sport. It is hoped that there could be some limited crowds permitted for some first-class matches next month and then for the T20 Blast campaign.
Counties also have plans to improve their live-streaming of games to enable fans who cannot attend to watch matches online.