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S

planning the domestic calendar of English men is a desperately difficult business. You juggle the interests of red and white ball games across four competitions, 26 teams and around 30 venues, while trying to accommodate international action.

But, by all accounts, the 2021 season – in terms of timing and format – has been a dog dinner.

The LV = Insurance County Championship has been seen to be played in two games, each very distinct from one another, at opposite ends of the summer. He saw the Vitality Blast group stage played in June, its quarter-finals in August and its final day in mid-September. We saw the Royal London One-Day Cup relegated to the Hundreds (the centerpiece around which everything was built), and its final played on a Thursday.

We already know a little more about the summer of 2022, and a little more has been leaked about the ongoing discussions on how the championship works. What we know:

• The Vitality Blast will end with the day of the final on July 16

• England’s men’s calendar, unless an additional test against India is scheduled

• These two elements tell us that the Hundred will have to be played between July 17 (after the end of the Blast) and August 14, last weekend, England do not have a test match this month. Sky, after all, won’t be broadcasting a Men’s Test and Finals weekend on the same day. That gives the Hundreds a window of four weeks, which is a lot of time.

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Using that information, this article is an attempt to come up with a better way forward for the domestic game in 2021 and beyond.

The proposed schedule – approximately

• April: RLODC group stage

• From May 1 to mid-June: 7 first rounds of CC and KO RLODC

• from mid-June to July 18: Vitality Blast

• July 18-August 14: Les Cent; The Bob Willis Trophy

• From August 15: last 7 rounds of CC

• June: Tests vs New Zealand

• July: Limited Overs against India and South Africa

• August: Tests against South Africa

What is the Bob Willis Trophy?

Le Cent – like it or not – is here to stay. With him, at least 100 of the best white ball cricketers in the county game in the height of summer.

This means that any white ball competition played in this slot – like the Royal London this year – lacks quality and sees red ball specialists twiddling their thumbs or playing like square pegs in round holes. It also means that the next generation of ODI players from England are not playing cricket at 50, which is a concern beyond the 2027 World Cup. It is more damaging for, say, Will Jacks or Tom Banton of miss a 50 point cricket than another red ball cricket.

So why not play red ball cricket at this time? Well, because the County Championship – still the most loved competition for players and fans – would be compromised by weakened teams.

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