The First Class Forum (FCF) of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) today voted to support the introduction of a new 20-over Competition to replace the Benson and Hedges Cup for a minimum of three years as from the 2003 season. This had been one of the principal recommendations of the ECB’s Domestic Structure Review Group (DSRG), led by the chairman of the ECB’s Cricket Advisory Committee and former Essex player, David Acfield.

Speaking after the meeting, Tim Lamb, Chief Executive of the ECB, said: ‘I’m delighted that the FCF have voted to back the introduction of a new 20-over competition. This is another very positive development for the future of cricket in this country. It’s essential that we reach out and appeal to a new generation of young cricket followers, and this new competition is designed to do exactly that. I’d like to express my thanks to David Acfield and his entire Review Group for producing such a comprehensive, balanced and forward-looking Report’.

In addition, the FCF decided:

i] to support in principle the Review Group’s preferred option for England to play a 3-match One Day International (ODI) Series in addition to a 10-match triangular NatWest Series starting in 2003.

ii] to support the recommendation that the current ECB audit of international ground practice facilities should be extended to include all First Class Counties.

iii] to support the recommendation for the retention of the current Frizzell County Championship programme of 16 x 4-day matches per County with each County playing the 8 teams in their division on a home and away basis.

iv] to confirm its continued support for the principle of centrally contracting England players. The FCF looks forward to receiving a detailed report from the International Teams Management Group (ITMG) at the next meeting of the FCF on May 13. This Report will make recommendations about a possible increase in the number of central contracts, the duration of those contracts, and whether England players should be employed solely by the ECB.

v] to support the recommendation that First Class Counties should be allowed to play two overseas players, rather than just the one player that is currently permitted.

The likely format for the new 20 Over Competition will be:

  • 20 overs per side with 1 hour and 15 minutes allocated to each innings and a 15 minute interval providing an event lasting 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  • Daylight playing hours to be 5.30pm-8.15pm. Floodlit hours will be 7.30pm-10.15pm.
  • Usual 1-day cricket regulations to apply on a pro rata basis, with the additional fielding restrictions in place for 6 as opposed to 15 overs and bowlers limited to 4 overs each.
  • To enable matches to be scheduled from 5.30pm-8.15pm in daylight, the Competition will be scheduled tightly around the longest days of the year in June.

    The Competition will consist of 3 regional groups of 6 teams (each side plays 5 matches) with the 3 winning teams and the best runner-up progressing to Finals’ Day at Lord’s, when the two semi-finals and the final will take place.

    For further information contact:

    John Read, Director of Corporate Affairs, on 0207-432-1244 or 07774-476391
    or Mark Hodgson on 0207-432-1251