What is the format of the competitions?
Every team will begin the season with the opportunity to win both the LV= Insurance County Championship and the Bob Willis Trophy. The County Championship will run in two stages:
The 18 First-Class Counties have been split into three seeded groups of six counties. Each county will play the other counties in their group both home and away - a total of 10 matches.
At the end of the group stage, the top two counties in each group will progress to Division One for the second phase of the County Championship.
The other 12 counties will move into Divisions Two and Three. The third and fourth-placed teams will progress to Division Two while the fifth and sixth-placed teams move to Division Three.
The First-Class Counties will play their final four County Championship matches after progressing to their Division.
They will not play against the other team from their initial group, but will carry through half the number of points it scored in the two matches played against that team in the group stage. This could result in half points being carried forward.
So, for example, if Essex and Warwickshire both progress from Group One to Division One and each scored a combined 21 points against each other in their two matches, both teams will carry forward 10.5 points to the Division stage.
How can a team win the LV= Insurance County Championship?
The 2021 County Championship title will be decided by the team that finishes top of Division One.
How is the winner of the Bob Willis Trophy decided?
The top two teams in Division One will play for the Bob Willis Trophy in a five-day final at Lord’s to ensure a showpiece event to conclude the men’s first-class domestic season.
The playing conditions for the final are to be confirmed and will be announced in due course.
Which counties are in the three LV= Insurance County Championship groups?
All three groups have six teams:
Group 1: Essex, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Durham
Group 2: Somerset, Hampshire, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Middlesex, Leicestershire
Group 3: Kent, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Glamorgan, Sussex
How were the groups decided?
Seedings for the Group Stage of the 2021 County Championship have been determined based on performances during the 2019 County Championship and the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy.
There has been a provision to accommodate derby matches within the groups, where appropriate with the seeding structure. This is to ensure that county members and supporters can look forward to some of county cricket’s oldest rivalries resuming home and away next summer.
Could a team win both titles?
Yes. Essex will be seeking to defend both titles after winning the 2019 County Championship and the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy.
How was this structure decided upon and will it be in place for future years?
The chairs of the First-Class Counties agreed this revised structure via a vote. It will be for next season only with the aim of helping to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
Next year a review and consultation is due to be held between the First-Class Counties, the ECB and other stakeholders regarding the men’s domestic structure for 2022 and beyond.
Will teams have to declare after 120 overs of their first innings like last year?
No, there will be no restrictions on the duration of the first innings this season.
When will the matches be played?
You can find all the fixtures for the 2021 LV= Insurance County Championship here.
How can I watch and listen to the LV= Insurance County Championship?
For the 2021 season, matches will be live streamed through the improved County Championship match centre on ecb.co.uk as well as through the England Cricket app.
Each of the 18 First Class counties will be streaming their home matches through their websites or social media channels.
Every ball of the men’s domestic season will be broadcast across BBC local radio stations, the BBC Sport website and BBC Radio Wales.
You’ll be able to listen to the BBC commentary over the top of the live stream videos on both the ECB website and through the England Cricket app.
Can I buy tickets to any of the matches?
In line with government guidelines around COVID-19, the opening rounds of the LV= County Championship will be played behind closed doors. It is hoped that cricket grounds will open up in May, but we await confirmation as to the exact details.
Once fans are allowed into grounds, contact your local county for more information on how to buy tickets.