On Saturday morning, Yorkshire will begin their Bob Willis Trophy campaign against Durham at Emirates Riverside. It is a little over 10 months since they last stepped foot on a field for a competitive match.
This competition has been created in order to get the counties playing first-class cricket this summer, and below is all you need to know.
The 18 counties have been split into three groups of six; North, Central and South.
North: Derbyshire, Durham, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.
Central: Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
South: Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex.
The winner of the competition will be decided by a five-day final, with the ECB’s preferred venue being at Lord’s culminating in early October.
The venue and date are still TBC at present, owing much to the need to be flexible as a result of Covid-19.
The final is five days instead of four in order to maximise the chances of play, with weather and bad light more likely at that time of year.
The teams qualifying for the final will be the two group winners with the best finishing records.
If the final is drawn, the only tiebreaker option is first-innings runs, assuming both teams complete that innings. If both are level at that stage, a draw would see the trophy shared.
All Bob Willis Trophy matches have first-class status.
A group win will be rewarded with 16 points and a draw eight. Bonus points will be awarded in the same way they are in the regular County Championship, with a maximum of five for batting and three for bowling.
Some regulation changes have been made to minimise the risk of injuries on seam bowlers and to encourage captains to use more spin bowling.
Each side’s first innings is capped at 120 overs. The follow-on can only be enforced with leads of 200 or more compared to 150 in a regular County Championship match.
A minimum of 90 overs can be bowled each day, down from 96 in the Championship. And captains will have to wait 90 overs to be offered the new ball, rather than 80.
This is a one-off competition with no bearing on the County Championship. So, Yorkshire will start 2021 in Division One and Notts, for example, will begin next summer in Division Two.
Yorkshire’s matches are:
Durham, Emirates Riverside, August 1-4.
Nottinghamshire, Trent Bridge, August 8-11.
Derbyshire, Emerald Headingley, August 15-18.
Lancashire, Emerald Headingley, August 22-25.
Leicestershire, Emerald Headingley, September 6-9.
All counties will be offering live streams of games, with Yorkshire’s four-day home games only available to Full and One Day Members.
They may widen that out at the start of the Vitality Blast on August 27 – the fixtures for that competition will be released no earlier than August 7.
At this stage, all Yorkshire games are being played behind closed doors, but the county are hopeful of getting the green light for fans to attend all home fixtures as part of ongoing pilots.
Surrey’s Kia Oval and Warwickshire’s Edgbaston have so far been chosen for initial spectator pilots by the ECB and the UK government as they explore the feasibility of allowing spectators into all sporting venues from October.
Surrey and Warwickshire have welcomed limited numbers to friendly matches earlier this week and will do again for the first two days of this weekend’s group fixtures.