Chairman Roger Hutton says “red ball cricket is what Yorkshire is all about” after voting for a first-class competition to be included in this summer’s domestic schedule.
The 18 county chairmen yesterday decided to play four-day and T20 cricket, starting on Saturday August 1.
Both competitions are likely to be formatted as three regional groups of six.
In the red ball competition, Yorkshire would play five games against Derbyshire, Durham, Lancashire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. The two best placed finishers across the groups would then play out a five-day final at Lord’s in late September.
The plan is also for the Blast to be played in the same three regional groups, with 10 games home and away. The three group winners and the next five best placed finishers would qualify for the quarter-finals and then Finals Day in September.
“On a personal level, I’m a big fan of the red ball game,” said Hutton.
“I think it’s what Yorkshire is all about. It’s got a tremendous history and has won more Championships than anybody else.
“We’ve also supplied a lot of Test players to England and are very proud to host the international matches at Emerald Headingley.
“So red ball cricket is without doubt key for Yorkshire, and for the business too.
“More importantly, I am the chairman of a club with 8,000 members anxious to see red ball cricket played this summer.
“I’m delighted – thrilled to bits – we can deliver that in such a difficult time.”
On yesterday’s vote, Hutton said: “Every county’s primary concern was to make sure cricket can be delivered safely, and there’s a lot of hard work gone on and will be going on.
“Some counties have found that a bigger challenge than others and are more worried about the risk.
“But there was a unanimous decision to play cricket again from August 1 – and a unanimous decision to play the T20 Blast.
“There were some differing levels of concern as to the consequences of playing four-day cricket because that has different things involved such as hotel stays, people together for longer periods.
“But there was a majority decision that red ball cricket should be played.
“The voting numbers weren’t revealed, but a two thirds majority was needed to get any amendment to the competitions, and that was achieved.”
Of course, given the current Covid-19 situation, things remain subject to change.
The ECB board will now meet to approve the vote before a schedule is drawn up – a complex process, according to Hutton.
“It will be the case in terms of four-day cricket, I imagine, that if a county feels it can’t meet the specific medical and compliance requirements, it may not play the four-day game,” he said.
“It is conceivable that a county chooses or decides not to play.
“Also, any one of those areas could be subject to a lockdown, as we have seen happen already (with Leicester).
“That is a threat to the game, and fingers crossed it doesn’t happen and no one gets Covid.
“With the Blast, there is a prospect that some counties may not be able to play their games at home, either because they can’t meet requirements or for another reason.
“It is conceivable that those games aren’t necessarily equal home and away.
“We are yet to see how that will play out.”
Hutton has praised the ECB’s work in getting us to a point where county cricket is now on the horizon, and he is hopeful crowds will be allowed to attend games at some point during the next few months.
“We’re in the hands of the government about what we can and can’t do in regards to watching games and things like that,” he said.
“The ECB have done an incredible job in how they’ve dealt with the government, and they’re working very hard to see whether we can get some crowds in.”
Whatever way Yorkshire fans will follow the action – an enhanced live stream service is being explored by the counties and the ECB – Hutton says it will be a “delight for everybody to see the lads out there with the White Rose on their chest”.
He also added, in a show of intent: “At the beginning of the year we assembled a squad we thought could win the Championship.
“The competition won’t be in the format we all hoped it would, but we want to use this brief window to show how good we are.
“Some lads who are sensational cricketers but for one reason or another don’t get the chance to play for England will be thrilled to play a five-day final at Lord’s.
“They will certainly be fighting hard to get that opportunity.”