Worcestershire CCC will return to playing in a two-division LV=Insurance County Championship next season following a vote by the chairs of the 18 First Class Counties.
The competition will switch to the structure agreed by the First Class Counties before COVID-19 of ten teams in Division One and eight in Division Two.
A two-up, two-down promotion and relegation system will be in place for the 2022 campaign, with each County due to play 14 matches.
The counties will be placed into the division they had qualified to compete in had the 2020 LV=Insurance County Championship taken place.
Worcestershire will battle with Durham, Derbyshire, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Middlesex and Sussex in Division Two.
Worcestershire Cricket Steering Group Chair, and Club Vice Chair, Paul Pridgeon said: “I think the two-division structure gives everyone more to play for during the whole season.
“If you are in Division One and not going particularly well, you have to fight to stave off relegation, and in Division Two, you are striving to get up into the top division.
“It is a better competition all-round, and our long term goal is to become an established Division One club.”
Head Coach, Alex Gidman, said: “As a club, and as a cricket team, we will get on and play what is in front of us, and we’re really looking forward to getting our red ball campaign up and running against next April.
“The lads will be chomping at the bit, whatever the format. There is some tough competition in that league, but we will be really looking forward to getting stuck in again.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s role ahead of this week’s vote has been to facilitate discussions between the First-Class Counties and provide the options available to them.
The priority of those discussions has been to determine when and how a return to the two-division structure – featuring ten counties in Division One and eight in Division Two as agreed by counties following the 2018 Domestic Playing Programme (DPP) – could best be achieved.
The process to transition to that structure had begun during the 2019 LV= Insurance County Championship. At the end of that season, three counties were promoted from Division Two (Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire) while the last-placed Division One county (Nottinghamshire) was relegated.
A two-division LV= Insurance County Championship has, however, not taken place since then due to Covid-19.
It has always been the intention of the First-Class Counties and the ECB to return to the two-division structure at the earliest opportunity.
After the First-Class Counties voted to change the format of men’s first-class cricket in 2020 and 2021 to mitigate against the impact of Covid-19, this week’s vote also considered the option to play one further year of the seeded group structure that was successfully staged this summer.
Although there was support from counties to use the 2022 season as a way to step back to a two-divisional structure, there was not the two-thirds majority that was required under the ECB Articles.
The LV= Insurance County Championship will, therefore, be played in the new two-divisional structure from next season.
2022 LV= Insurance County Championship – Division One
Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire, Yorkshire.
2022 LV= Insurance County Championship – Division Two
Durham, Derbyshire, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Worcestershire.