Following the ECB's announcement that 2022 will see a return to two divisions of the LV= County Championship, Middlesex Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Cornish, has issued the following statement:
“We are disappointed to announce that following a vote from all eighteen county Chairs, the ECB has today announced that next season’s County Championship will see a return of the two divisional structure, which will see Middlesex competing in the Second Division of the four-day competition.
“As a Club, we favoured the conference structure that was played in 2021, which offered counties better protection should there be any Covid restrictions affecting the competition in 2022, and also offers all counties a fair opportunity to challenge for the title from the very first ball of the season. Furthermore, the two divisions next season will be determined by the final standings at the end of the 2019 season, and we felt a fairer means of determining the placings in divisions one and two in 2023 would have been for all counties to begin on a level playing field in 2022, which one more year of the conference system would have provided.
"With the outcome of yesterday’s vote seeing the divisional structure reintroduced next season, our attention now turns to the challenge of Middlesex making an immediate return to the top flight of the Championship.
“2021 was a challenging season for Middlesex, one in which our young side learned a huge amount and improved as the season went on. We ended the year with momentum on our side, having performed well in the divisional stages of the competition. This breeds belief and positivity, which we will carry into next season and build on over the winter months of training that lay ahead of the squad.
“Adding quality of the likes of Mark Stoneman and Shaheen Shah Afridi to our squad gives further optimism in 2022 and we can’t wait for April to come around, with the prospect of an exciting season ahead of us, with our focus firmly set on making a return to Division One from 2023 onwards.
“With the structure now finalised, conversations will begin with the ECB, and with our partners MCC, to push for as much four-day cricket as possible at Lord’s at key times of the summer, which we know is an important issue for many of the Club’s members and fans.
“Indications are that the fixtures for the 2022 season will be ready for publication later next month, and we look forward to unveiling these once the fixture schedule has been approved by the counties and the ECB.”
Andrew Cornish, Middlesex Chief Executive Officer
READ THE FULL ECB ANNOUNCEMENT BELOW...
The LV= Insurance County Championship will return to two divisions next season following a vote by the chairs of the 18 First-Class Counties.
The return to a two-division LV= Insurance County Championship, after two Covid-affected seasons, will see the competition move to the 10:8 structure that was agreed by the First-Class Counties prior to the pandemic.
2022 LV= Insurance County Championship structure:
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 10 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 and Gloucestershire) whilst the last place 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.
The ECB has also issued a list of FAQ's relating to the structuring of next season's First-Class competition, which can be viewed here - COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2022 - FAQ's