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ECB cuts number of county cricket fixtures

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The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has made a number of changes to the domestic calendar resulting in fewer County Championship matches.

From the 2017 season, the number of County Championship rounds will be reduced from 16 to 14, with each county playing two fewer games each as a consequence. The competition will run throughout the summer in two blocks, pausing during periods of limited overs cricket.

The County Championship will still be played over two divisions, although from 2017, Division One will be made up of eight teams, while Division Two will be populated by 10 teams. The current structure has nine in each division.

In addition, the T20 Blast – fast-paced 20-over cricket – will be played in July and August to “best make use of the summer holiday period to attract a wide family-based audience”.

The 50-over Royal London Cup group stage matches will occur in April and May, with the final at Lord’s in July. Group winners will go straight to the semi-finals with second and third placed teams entering the quarter-finals.

ECB chair Colin Graves said the decisions were made after “a number of productive meetings” with chief executives and chairs of First Class Counties.

“There is a clear consensus that County Cricket has to be sustainable and must support the whole game,” he added. “There is an appetite for change and cricket is moving fast – we must not be left behind.”

Tom Harrison, chief executive of the ECB, said the organisation had a “great opportunity to take a detailed look at a range of options and find the best structure for the long-term health of the game”.

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The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has made a number of changes to the domestic calendar resulting in fewer County Championship matches.
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