Counties agree to Twenty20 revolution

The cricketing summer is set for its biggest-ever shake-up with the introduction of an English Premier League from 2010.

The popularity of Twenty20 will see drastic changes made to the domestic calendar with the new format taking centre stage.

The competition, which will take place in June, will ­consist of two divisions of ten teams, feature promotion and relegation and have a finals weekend.

Players will be hoping the EPL emulates the success of this year's first Indian Premier League, where star names earned huge amounts for just six weeks' work.

Proposals were agreed yesterday for two foreign sides to supplement the 18 counties in the inaugural EPL – while the NatWest Pro40 will be axed after next year.

A separate domestic Twenty20 league, played mainly on Fridays in July, August and September, will replace the ­current Twenty20 Cup with the winners qualifying for an international Champions League.

There had been fears only the wealthiest counties would be involved in the plans under new franchise-based competitions.

But England & Wales Cricket Board ­chairman Giles Clarke said: 'Broadcasters in this country and in Asia are interested in county sides – not made-up sides.'

The ECB will retain a 50-over competition as well as the County Championship's ­current four-day, two-division structure.

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