In the 2024 season of the County Championship, hybrid pitches will be used for the first time.
Hybrid pitches will be introduced in the 2024 County Championship season, pleasing red-ball fans with matches scheduled in every month of the season and two games in late August.
Before, it was believed that hybrid pitches did not break down enough for matches lasting four days, so they were only used for games played with a white ball. However, the England and Wales Cricket Board has now determined that their durability is outweighed by the chance to incorporate technology and better manage the high number of cricket matches being played.
Alan Fordham, the manager in charge of operations for the ECB, emphasized that the one-year experiment would not result in widespread manipulation of pitches, as this is a difficult process to reverse. The county’s groundskeepers are said to be eager for this opportunity.
The Championship rules are being adjusted further: the trial with the Kookaburra ball will persist, in hopes of enhancing players’ readiness for playing abroad and promoting spinners; the amount of matches utilizing the Kookaburra will rise from two to four.
The 2023 points system trial, where a win was worth 16 points and a draw was worth five, has been discontinued. Draws will now be worth eight points again. However, the rule regarding batting points, where a team must score 250 before earning bonus points, remains in place. Additionally, the bowl-out has been removed as a deciding factor in case of a washed-out final. The teams would instead share the trophy.
The schedule needs to be adjusted to accommodate the men’s T20 World Cup in June, and the start of the Hundred (fixtures revealed in January) has been moved up slightly.
In 2023, Surrey, the winners of the Championship, will begin defending their title with a match against Old Trafford on April 5th. Meanwhile, Durham, who dominated Division Two, will face Hampshire in their first game since being demoted due to a points deduction in 2016. This match holds added tension as Hampshire was the team that benefited from Durham’s demotion.
There may be a lot of backlash from Middlesex supporters following the county’s announcement that they will be playing two Blast matches at the Cloud County Ground in Chelmsford, Essex.
The decision was backed by CEO Andrew Cornish, who stated that the professional players also agreed with it. He ended his statement by stating that although it may be viewed as drastic, it is necessary to ensure Middlesex’s financial stability.
Most of the Vitality Blast matches will take place on Thursdays through Sundays to increase crowd turnout to pre-pandemic levels. The Charlotte Edwards Cup has also been extended to include 10 group-stage games per team and a three-match finals day, similar to the Blast finals day. Additionally, there will be more Blast-CEC double headers.
The remaining championship games have been squeezed into a hectic September finale, dubbed “Super September” by the ECB. However, Alec Stewart, coach of Surrey, expressed his dissatisfaction with the schedule, stating that it was far from being super at the end of the 2023 season.