The Royal London Cup makes its welcomed return to the domestic schedule on Thursday following a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Somerset are the defending champions after they defeated Hampshire at Lord’s in 2019 with Trent Bridge set to host the showpiece decider in August this year.
Here are all the details you need to know about this season’s 50-over white-ball competition.
When does the Royal London Cup start?
The tournament will begin on 22 July with Essex Eagles taking on Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl in Group A.
What is the format of the competition this summer?
The 18 First-Class counties have been randomly drawn into two groups of nine teams.
Each county will play eight group-stage matches – four at home and four away – with the top three counties in each group progressing to the knockout stages.
The format for the knockout stages are:
• Quarter-finals – 14 August (hosted by second-placed counties)
• Group A Second-placed county v Group B Third-placed county
• Group B Second-placed county v Group A Third-placed county
• Semi-finals – 17 August (hosted by group winners)
• Group A winner v Quarter-final winner
• Group B winner v Quarter-final winner
The winners of the semi-final progress to the Royal London Cup final at Trent Bridge on 19 August.
Which counties are in each group?
• Group A: Essex, Worcestershire, Sussex, Middlesex, Kent, Durham, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Lancashire.
• Group B: Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Glamorgan, Yorkshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Somerset.
The groups for the Royal London Cup were randomly drawn. The order that they were drawn appears in the above list and has determined the home and away ties.
Example: The first team in the Group will play at home to the second, third, fourth and fifth teams drawn, and away to sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. This continues – another example is the team drawn seventh; this team will play at home to teams drawn eighth, ninth, first, second, and away to teams drawn third, fourth, fifth, sixth.
How can I watch and follow the competition?
All Essex Eagles home matches will be streamed lived via the Essex Cricket Matchzone found at essexcricket.org.uk or on the Club’s official Essex Cricket TV YouTube channel – here.
Our host counties for away games will also be streaming the games live and these can be found on the Essex Cricket Matchzone.
Can I buy tickets to the matches?
Tickets for all Essex Eagles home games in the Royal London Cup are on sale now and selling fast and the opening match at The Cloudfm County Ground against Middlesex on Sunday 25 July is now sold out.
The health and safety of anyone attending matches this summer will remain the priority of the ECB and the First-Class Counties.
We continue to work closely with Government, and other sports, as we plan ways we can safely welcome supporters back to venues across England and Wales this summer.
Should the attendance of supporters at a Royal London match be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, each host venue will have its own communicated ticket refund and rollback policy.