The ECB have today announced details of the changes they will make to next years Twenty20 Cup after abandoning any hopes of starting a new P20 league to rival the IPL.
The new format will see the enhanced Twenty20 competition be based on two pools of nine which will be split on north-south lines. This means that the competition retains the local derby element which is so successful at the moment. The matches will be played on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays in the main.
The ECB Board has still to decide on the playing regulations for the competition although there will be no restrictions on the number of overseas players a County can register. There will however be a restriction, yet to be decided, on the number of overseas players who can play in each game.
Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, said: 'We canvassed a wide range of opinion and everyone was behind the principle of the primacy of Test match and County Championship cricket. It is important that the County Championship structure is maintained to support the England Test team. We all recognise that there is little appetite for Test match cricket in early May and this structure allows us to play Tests in June, July and August.
'We have also listened to the spectators and counties alike about the structure and the consensus was for Twenty20 cricket to be played in June and July with a final later in the season with the qualification matches primarily at weekends.'
The most logical structure for the two groups will see Northants, Worcestershire and Warwickshire move into a Northern Group to join Lancashire, Yorkshire, Durham, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
The Southern group will be made up of Surrey, Middlesex, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Essex and they will be joined by Gloucestershire, Glamorgan and Somerset.