The draw for the 2015 Royal London One-Day Cup has been made, with Saturday’s finalists, Durham and Warwickshire, being placed into separate groups.
However, the Bears will play their respective quarter final and last four opponents of Essex and Kent in what is a very Southern-dominated Group B.
Durham will take on the likes of Yorkshire – who they beat in this year’s quarter-finals – in the group stage round of fixtures.
The draw signals the ECB’s intent to stick with a 50-over One-Day cricket competition – something that was absent from the English domestic game for some time before returning in 2014.
Yet again, teams will play everyone in their group once, with four fixtures each both home and away. After those matches have been played, the top four from each pool will progress through to the last eight.
The 50-over format of the tournament is identical to how One Day Internationals function, and there is hope that it will make the jump from county cricket to the international stage more of an easier transition for potential England players.
Dates, times and venues for each fixture will be announced later this year, but for now we at least know who will be playing who at some stage.
Games to look out for
The big two fixtures in Group A that fans will be eagerly anticipating are likely to be when Yorkshire meet Durham – in a repeat of their 2014 quarter final at Headingley – and the west country clash between Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Meanwhile Group B has a very southern feel to it, with Kent, Hampshire, Sussex, Essex, Middlesex and Glamorgan all involved. Lancashire may feel the strain of having to travel further for away games, with only Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire close to keeping them company.
The close proximity of a lot of those sides could provide some tasty encounters, with sides knowing their opponents well after playing so much T20 cricket against one another.
The Royal London Cup made its’ debut appearance on cricketing calendars this year and came to a close when Durham defeated Warwickshire in the final at Lord’s last Saturday.
It provided the return of 50-over cricket to county grounds for the first time since the Friends Provident Trophy in 2009 and afforded first-class cricketers the opportunity to play the same format of the game as international stars do.
With the World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand next February and March, it will be interesting to see if the ECB reverting from 40-over games has an effect on England’s performance in that competition.
Group A: Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Durham, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, and Worcestershire.
Group B: Kent, Hampshire, Sussex, Essex, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, and Glamorgan.