The 2021 County Championship will be the 121st season and the first round gets underway on Thursday, April 8. 18 teams will lock horns with each other to win the red-ball silverware in a tweaked structure for 2021. The County Championship was not staged last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the English and Wales Cricket Boards went ahead with a truncated Bob Willis Trophy held in its place to fill the gap.
The established tournament returns this year amid snow weather, which is forecasted to be a very cold start to proceedings. The team from Durham practised for the upcoming domestic tournament amid heavy snowfall. In a video uploaded by the official Twitter handle of Durham team, the players can be seen practising in snowy weather conditions. Along the six-second clip, Durham Cricket tweeted, “Less than 48 hours until the cricket season."
— Durham Cricket (@DurhamCricket) April 6, 2021
The brief video clip garnered more than 3.3 lakh views, close to 5,400 likes and hundreds of user comments since going online on Tuesday.
The County Championship kickstarts in a new format with the first round of games scheduled to begin on April 8, while the subsequent rounds of the first-class championship will be played on April 15, 22, 29 and the remaining rounds of matches from May to September 2021.
The 18 teams have been divided into three groups comprising six teams each. Group 1 has Durham, Derbyshire, Essex, Worcestershire, Birmingham and Nottingham. Group 2 comprises Surrey, Somerset, Middlesex, Leicestershire, Gloucestershire and Hampshire. While Northamptonshire, Lancashire, Kent, Sussex, Glamorgan and Yorkshire make-up Group 3.
Each side will play the others in their pool in a series of home and away fixtures, to a total of 10 matches. The top two sides from each group will then advance to Division One, and the third and fourth-placed teams move to Division Two and the fifth and sixth-placed teams go into Division Three.
Each side will then play four more matches and they will not play the side they have already faced twice in the pool stage for a third time. Instead, the points accumulated from those matches will be carried over, in the format and the side which tops Division One will be crowned County Champions. They will then play the side who finishes second in a five-day final in the last week of September andthe winners of that game will claim the Bob Willis Trophy.
Durham are scheduled to play their first county game on Thursday, April 8 against Nottinghamshire in Nottingham.