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English County Championship To Return To Two Divisions

After two years of COVID-19 affected scheduling, the ECB have announced that they will return to a two-division setup for its County Championship in 2022 and although it was not a unanimous decision, it was a popular one all the same.

The reason that the ECB have reverted to its previous format, is after a vote between the 18 counties and with each of the members of the competition being asked their views on what the format for should be 2022, a return to league cricket was eventually voted through.

With no County Championship in 2020, a three-grouped format was in place for 2021 and for those two teams that finished either the winner or runner-up of their group, they would move into the end of season six-team Division One.

While following the same logic, those who finished third and fourth would play in the end of season Division Two and the bottom two teams of each group, would subsequently ply their trade in Division Three.

With Division One supplying the six teams that would play for the Bob Willis Trophy, the two top sides would then go onto the final and with Warwickshire dominating Lancashire in the showpiece event, they would be crowned the 2021 ECB County Championship winners.

For many observers, a showpiece event such as the Bob Willis Cup was an interesting twist on the format and although it was warmly received by supporters up and down the country, those within the boardrooms were looking to return to a form of scheduling normality.

Normality that comes in the guise of the setup for 2022 and whereas previous years have been played in a 9/9 or 8/10 split in terms of teams per divisions, next year will instead see a top heavy 10/8 split.

Even with an imbalance of teams in the two divisions, the same number of fixtures will be played by all counties. A number that stands at 14, with the second tier playing a standard home and away round robin format.

Although the top tier will play the same number of fixtures in 2022, there are questions regarding sporting integrity – as there will not be a full home and away round robin of 14 fixtures and this could lead to contention further down the line.

With this outlined, here is how the two divisions will look next year:

Division One:

Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire, Yorkshire.

Division Two:

Durham, Derbyshire, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Worcestershire.

While although thoe divisions have been announced, the odds of who will win either league have not and for those wh have yet to test their cricket betting acumen, a glance at a Bet365 review will be of great use.

Once armed with that information on just how to place a bet and more importantly gain the best odds, the next decision will be to select a county for your bet slip and the big decision will be whether Warwickshire can win back-to-back championships.

Then again, a lot can change in the space of 12 months and for those who are considered a cricket aficionado – especially when it comes to betting, they will be tracking the ins and outs of all the top-tier counties.

Because recruitment will be key across the course of the off-season and for those counties that get it right, they will find themselves in a stronger position to be the dominant force within English and Welsh cricket.

Of course, the same could be said for those who will have to operate within Division Two for 2022 and with these eight counties feeling that they have a point to prove, it could be a rather cut-throat competition.

Fundamentally the return to a two-tier setup, means guaranteed income for each of the 18 counties and although the lifecycle of the County Championship has been called into question at times, there is a sense that it will still continue for quite a time.

Because even though it is continually competing with shorter forms of the game, there is always space for four-day country cricket and although that space has got smaller over the years, it would be a crying shame if disappeared forever.

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