Northants to start 2021 County Championship campaign at home against Kent

Cricket will return to the County Ground on April 8, 2021Cricket will return to the County Ground on April 8, 2021
Cricket will return to the County Ground on April 8, 2021
Northants will start the 2021 cricket season with a home clash against Kent in the revamped County Championship on April 8.

The ECB have unveiled the group stage fixtures for the new campaign, with Northants having been placed in Group 3 along with Kent, Lancashire, Glamorgan, Yorkshire and Sussex.

The first 10 red-ball fixtures of the summer have been pencilled in, with the remaining four dependent on where Northants finish in their group table.

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And it is certainly a full-on start to the season, with the opening eight group matches taking place over the course of eight weeks between April 8 and June 6.

Northants head coach David RipleyNorthants head coach David Ripley
Northants head coach David Ripley

David Ripley's men open up at the County Ground against Kent on Thursday, April 8, before travelling to Old Trafford a week later to take on Lancashire (April 15).

Northants then host Glamorgan (April 22) and go to Yorkshire (April 29) before a home double header against Sussex (May 6) and Lancashire (May 20).

The hectic opening spell of matches continues with a journey to Hove to take on Sussex (May 27) before the County then travel to Canterbury to play Kent on June 3.

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There is then a month-long break from red-ball cricket before Yorkshire visit the County Ground on July 3, with their final group match in south Wales against Glamorgan on July 11.

The top two counties in each group, at the end of the group stage, will progress to division one, with the other counties moving into divisions two and three, where they will each play a further four matches.

The opening round of divisional stage matches will begin on the Bank Holiday Monday, August 30.

The winner of division one will be crowned the 2021 County Championship winners, with the top two then competing in the Bob Willis Trophy Final which is scheduled to start on Tuesday, September 27.

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Following the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact the 2020 season was so badly hit, the group set-up was agreed upon by the 18 first-class counties and is set to be in place for the 2021 season only.

The two division County Championship is expected to return in 2022, with Northants retaining their place in the top flight.

The white-ball Vitality T20 Blast and Royal London Cup fixture lists will be released in the new year, with tickets and season tickets for the 2021 campaign available from mid-January.

The ECB is also launching the controversial new Hundred competition next summer, and the 50-over county competition is scheduled to run concurrently with that.

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ECB managing director of county cricket Neil Snowball said: "We’re all looking forward to the return of the County Championship in 2021 after a very challenging year in 2020.

"Despite the significant hurdles that we faced this year, the domestic game still found a way to play meaningful cricket across men’s and women’s formats while ensuring that our members and supporters were able to remain close to the game through advanced live streaming of matches.

"Once again we have seen an innovative and collaborative approach between the ECB and the 18 first-class counties that has enabled us to plan for 2021 with a new County Championship structure, for 2021 only, that is designed to be both exciting for players and supporters and also flexible to the possible ongoing impact of COVID-19.

“We are also working hard with all 18 first-class counties to ensure that we are able to welcome the return of crowds safely next year and will continue to work closely with Government and all relevant authorities.”


Group 3

Thursday, April 8: Kent (H)

Thursday, April 15: Lancashire (A)

Thursday, April 22: Glamorgan (H)

Thursday, April 29: Yorkshire (A)

Thursday, May 6: Sussex (H)

Thursday, May 20: Lancashire (H)

Thursday, May 27: Sussex (A)

Thursday, June 3: Kent (A)

Saturday, July 3: Yorkshire (H)

Sunday, July 11: Glamorgan (A)