Final of domestic 50-over competition will return to being staged on a Saturday
The Royal London Cup will once again be played at the same time as the Hundred in 2022, the ECB has confirmed.
The domestic 50-over tournament was this year reduced to something of a development competition, with the best white-ball players unavailable as they were involved with Hundred squads. But in a clear sign that the ECB sees it as the least important format at present, the tournaments will once again be stage concurrently, with both expected to start in August and finish in September. The T20 Blast will be completed by mid-July.
The 50-over competition will, however, have a Saturday final in 2022. This year the final was staged on a Thursday less than 48-hours after the second semi-final. Partially as a result, the attendance was a modest 7000. Trent Bridge will remain the venue for the final.
The next 50-over World Cup is scheduled to be played in India in October and November 2023. It remains possible, therefore, that the domestic schedule in England could be changed ahead of the 2023 season to prioritise the 50-over format a little more.
The ECB has also indicated it will try to stage more first-class cricket in July. In 2021, there was a maximum eight days of Championship cricket per side staged between June 7 and August 29. There had been calls in some quarters for the ECB to stage the Championship at the same time as the Hundred to at least ensure those players involved in the Test squad could gain some long-from match practice as required. It has also been suggested that playing on mid-summer surfaces may do more to encourage the development of spin bowlers and negate the dominance of medium-paced seamers.
But such calls have been resisted for now in fear that such a move could further compromise the integrity of the domestic first-class game. Instead, the ECB has committed to trying to ensure at least one more round of fixtures in mid-summer.
Events at Lord’s, where rain helped Lancashire drag a one-sided encounter into a fourth day, have done nothing to boost the chances of the Bob Willis Trophy being played again in 2022. Despite the game effectively being defined by events in the first hour – put in on a surface offering seamers some assistance, Lancashire were 12 for 6 at one point – the poor weather forecast for the fourth day means there is a decent chance the game could even enter a fifth day.
By the close, Lancashire required another 50 runs in their second innings to avoid the largest defeat in their first-class history. As a bitterly cold wind rendered both watching and playing a challenging business, it became ever harder to justify extending the county season into October.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo