All 18 First-Class Counties will be in action when Bob Willis Trophy starts on 1 August

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has now confirmed this summer’s Bob Willis Trophy fixtures. Somerset and Gloucestershire are placed in the Central Group, along with Glamorgan, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

A five-day final will decide the Bob Willis Trophy champions and the men’s red-ball trophy will feature design of Bob Willis painted by his wife Lauren.

All 18 First-Class Counties are set to be in action when the red-ball competition begins on Saturday, August 1, with Somerset taking on Glamorgan at the Cooper Associates County Ground first up.

Somerset will also face Gloucestershire in Taunton, starting on Saturday, August 22.

Somerset are waiting to hear from the ECB Cricket Disciplinary Committee whether a 12-point penalty imposed last September, due to come into force at the start of this summer’s County Championship, will apply for the new competition.

The Bob Willis Trophy will hold first-class status, but is a separate competition from the County Championship, and will comprise three regionalised groups, consisting of six counties per group.

Somerset will play five group-stage matches – one against each county in the group – and the two group winners with the most points set to progress to a five-day final.

Somerset Director of Cricket Andy Hurry said: “There is enormous excitement about playing competitive cricket again. Some of the teams in our group we last met in four-day cricket back in 2007 when we were in the Second Division of the Championship.

“We would have been playing Gloucestershire anyway this season following their promotion and we are delighted to be welcoming them to Taunton for a match that will create enormous interest.

“That applies to the competition as a whole and we will go all out to win it. People will be talking cricket again once it gets underway and that is fantastic for the game as a whole.”

The playing conditions have been put in place following extensive medical research and in collaboration with the First-Class Counties and the Professional Cricketers’ Association, and include:

  • A reduction from a minimum of 96 overs to a minimum of 90 overs in a day’s play.
  • Each county’s first innings of a match can last no longer than 120 overs
  • The follow-on will increase from 150 to 200 runs
  • The new ball will be available after 90 overs rather than 80 overs

Performance Cricket Committee Chair, Sir Andrew Strauss, said: “For all fans of the county game, it is fantastic news that domestic cricket will get underway at the start of August.

“It goes without saying that everyone wants to see competitive red and white ball cricket but in these unprecedented times it is crucially important that we recognise that the fitness and wellbeing of players is the top priority after a long lay-off period.

“Following appropriate medical consideration these measures have been put in place for the Bob Willis Trophy to help to protect players from the risk of long-term injury and any impact that could have on their careers.”

Yeovil Express: