First-class counties to compete for Bob Willis Trophy

First-class counties in the UK will compete for the Bob Willis Trophy in a four-day competition as part of a shortened 2020 domestic season, the ECB has confirmed.

The ECB said on Friday that all 18 first-class counties had agreed to play in the same competitive red- and white-ball competitions, following a delayed start to the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As reported by ESPNcricinfo in May, the four-day competition will feature three regional groups of six teams who will each contest five first-class games with a five-day final expected to be played at Lord’s. The winner will claim the Bob Willis trophy, named after the former England captain who died in December. A shortened Vitality Blast competition will begin on August 27.

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Neil Snowball, ECB managing director of county cricket, said in a statement on Friday that the counties had “been united with a common goal to get back to our core function of playing cricket”.

“The commitment of the chairs and chief executives of the first-class counties to work together to achieve that ambition has been resolute and we will remain in close discussion as we continue to assess risk factors that need to be mitigated in order to ensure the safety and welfare of their players, coaches and staff,” Snowball said.

“We are all delighted that agreement has been reached across the game and we are now in a position to look forward to and prepare for a new men’s domestic season starting on 1 August.”

ESPNcricinfo understands that the counties voted by a narrow margin to play first-class and T20 cricket in the abbreviated season while some, including Hampshire, held safety concerns about hotel stays and voted to start the season with a 50-over competition and not play first-class cricket in 2020.

Venues would contact ticket holders for men’s domestic matches and first-class county members to inform them of the options available to them after a new fixture schedule has been announced, the ECB said.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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