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New County Championship fixtures to feature day-night matches

Day-night Championship cricket

Canterbury staged the first day-night County Championship match five years ago

The 2017 County Championship will feature a full round of day-night matches for the first time.

England players are expected to be made available for the nine floodlit games, starting on 26 June.

The competition starts on 7 April, with Middlesex beginning their defence of the title a week later with an away game against Hampshire.

The 2017 One-Day Cup will begin on 27 April, with the T20 Blast getting under way on 7 July.

Day-night warm-up for Test stars

The nine day-night Championship games, using pink balls, will give England players the chance to prepare for the first day-night Test in this country, against West Indies at Edgbaston, beginning on 17 August.

“It was important for us to arrange a full round of fixtures to give our England players the chance to experience the conditions,” said Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

“But just as we wanted to assess the impact of making Test cricket more accessible by changing the hours of play, the counties have really embraced the potential of Championship matches that stretch well into the evening when people have finished school or work.

“There are some really attractive matches in the day/night round, and it will be fascinating to see how it works out.”

Glamorgan beat Kent by eight wickets in the first day-night Championship match, played in 2011 as an experiment.

Day-night Championship fixtures (26-29 June 2017)

  • Division One: Essex v Middlesex, Hampshire v Somerset, Warwickshire v Lancashire, Yorkshire v Surrey
  • Division Two: Durham v Worcestershire, Glamorgan v Derbyshire, Northamptonshire v Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire v Kent, Sussex v Gloucestershire

Reduced schedule for teams

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Middlesex beat Yorkshire at Lord’s in September to win their first Championship title since 1993

Next summer’s County Championship will feature eight teams in Division One and 10 in Division Two, instead of the nine-nine split of previous years.

However, all teams will play 14 matches instead of 16, with each county in the second tier facing four of the others only once during the season.

Opening round of Championship fixtures (7-10 April 2017)

  • Division One: Essex v Lancashire, Surrey v Warwickshire, Yorkshire v Hampshire
  • Division Two: Kent v Gloucestershire, Leicestershire v Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire v Glamorgan

The number of Sunday starts for Championship matches has been reduced for 2017, with most games starting either on Friday or Monday.

Hampshire remain in the top flight after being reprieved by the ECB, which relegated Durham after the county accepted a £3.8m financial aid package.

The ECB sanctions mean Durham will also begin the Division Two season on -48 points. They will play Nottinghamshire at the Riverside in their first Championship game, starting on 14 April.

Following their trip to the Ageas Bowl, Middlesex will play their first home game at Lord’s against promoted Essex, starting on 21 April.

Yorkshire, champions in 2014 and 2015, start life under new head coach Andrew Gale with a home game against Hampshire on 7 April.

The final round of Championship games begin on Monday, 25 September so the season will end on the 28th – three days before the start of October.

Limited-overs changes

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Northants Steelbacks beat Durham by five wickets in the 2016 T20 Blast final

Moving the One-Day Cup to April and May, with the final at Lord’s following on 1 July, means the competition will follow a similar schedule to the old Benson and Hedges Cup, which ran from 1975 to 2002.

Holders Warwickshire travel to Wantage Road to face Northamptonshire in their first group game on 27 April, while 2016’s beaten finalists Surrey play their first match the following day as they meet Somerset at Taunton.

The quarter-finals will be played on 13-14 June, with only a two-day gap before the semi-finals on 16-17 June.

The group stage of the T20 Blast, which began in May in 2016, will run from early July to 18 August.

The quarter-finals will then be played from 22-25 August, with Finals Day – again being staged at Edgbaston – on 2 September, two weeks later than in 2016.

Northants will be trying to win the domestic T20 competition for the third time in five years in 2017, having first lifted the trophy in 2013.

Leicestershire are the only side to have won it on three occasions – in 2004, 2006 and 2011.

Opening One-Day Cup fixtures (27 April 2017)

  • Durham v Derbyshire, Gloucestershire v Glamorgan, Kent v Hampshire, Middlesex v Sussex, Northamptonshire v Warwickshire, Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire

Opening T20 Blast fixtures (7 July 2017)

  • Durham v Lancashire, Essex v Surrey, Glamorgan v Hampshire, Gloucestershire v Middlesex, Northamptonshire v Derbyshire, Worcestershire v Birmingham Bears, Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/38080382