All change for county cricketers
Promotion and relegation could be introduced to Minor Counties cricket from the 2020 season, is has been revealed.
Proposals which would increase the number of 50-over matches have also been put forward following more than a year of discussions between the Minor Counties Cricket Association and the ECB, with the aim of producing more competitive cricket.
Links with the first-class counties will be strengthened by a one-off round of 50-over matches including the Minor Counties.
Those plans form part of a wider changes to the first-class game confirmed yesterday, which will see the First Division revert from eight to ten teams in 2020.
Under the new Minor Counties format, the current Eastern and Western Divisions – the latter of which houses Shropshire – would be retained but each split into two divisions of five.
Teams would play a total of four, three-day fixtures – two fewer than the current six – with winners of Division One East and Division One West contesting the Championship final.
The bottom county in each regional First Division would be relegated and replaced by the winners of the respective Second Divisions.
Reducing the number of four-day fixtures would be counter-balanced by expanding the Minor Counties Trophy to include a group format, along with quarter-finals and semi-finals.
The new proposals would guarantee each county at least two home 50-over matches, in a competition which currently exists as a straight knockout.
A third competition, the Minor Counties T20, would be retained with four groups of five with the winners of each progressing straight to Finals Day.
Other planned changes include revised player eligibility qualifications to encourage the development of more homegrown players.
The next stage in the decision-making process takes place later this month when the bid to fund the Minor Counties programme is presented to the ECB Board.