YORKSHIRE are set to compete for two red-ball titles next summer following confirmation that the first-class counties have agreed to a revised structure for the 2021 men’s first-class season.

The chairs of the first-class counties have agreed via a vote that next summer will welcome the return of the County Championship in a group-stage format. The men’s first-class season is then set to end with a showpiece five-day Lord’s final to win the Bob Willis Trophy.

Essex will seek to defend both titles after the county won the 2019 County Championship and this summer’s Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.

The announcement follows discussions between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the first-class counties to help restart the County Championship, whilst mitigating against the impact of Covid-19 next summer. The agreed revised structure is for the 2021 men’s first-class season only.

The 18 counties are set to play 14 County Championship matches each next summer across group and division stages.

Each county has initially been placed into one of three seeded groups of six and will be scheduled to play five home and five away matches during the group stage.

The top two counties in each group, at the end of the group stage, will progress to Division One, with the other counties moving into Divisions Two and Three, where they will each play a further four matches.

The winner of Division One will be crowned the 2021 County Championship winners.

The top two teams in Division One will also earn the right to play in the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.