Warwickshire sport director Paul Farbrace has warmly welcomed red ball plan for county cricket next season...and also the planned comprehensive format review which take place in 2021.

Farbrace believes the England and Wales Cricket Board’s swift drawing up of the plan for next season, and its early release to the public, is a great sign of commitment to deliver a full quota of cricket to members and spectators next season.

All 18 counties will play 14 red ball games after they were split into three groups of six in which each county will play the others home and away. The Bears are in Group One with Essex, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire and Durham.

At the conclusion of the group, the top two counties in each will progress to Division One for the second phase of the County Championship while the other 12 counties move into Divisions Two and Three. The third and fourth-placed teams will progress to Division Two while the fifth and sixth move to Division Three. All will then play another four County Championship in their respective Division.

The top two teams in Division One will compete for the Bob Willis Trophy in a five-day Lord’s final.

The structure, for which the Bears voted, has been created purely for the 2021 season, during which a review and consultation will be held with counties and other stakeholders on the men’s domestic structure for 2022 and beyond.

“It is great that the ECB has been so proactive and the plan has been made quickly so that, so close to the end of last season, people are already talking about next season,” Farbrace said. 

“Already we all know what we have to look forward to and I think the groups that are been drawn up are very good. Ours will provide us with some real tests and some very interesting and competitive cricket.

“The ECB have done really well to make sure every county has their big local derby. We have got Worcestershire home and away which is great, but we also have some other really good games to look forward to, including the champions Essex.

“Every county will start the season with a chance to be county champions, which is a fantastic incentive. I think the conference system worked very well this year. Somerset and Essex got through to the final and they are the best two sides in the country and that’s what this system gives you. I believe this year every team could honestly say where they finished in the group was a fair reflection of the cricket they played.

“It makes complete sense to go with the same next year and, at the same time, have a really good think about the future of county cricket. Next year, when hopefully the future is a little clearer, will be the ideal time to review things to look at the conference system and compare it to two divisions and get the views of players and coaches and members about the future.”