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Essex begin County Championship 2021 against Worcestershire - Get full schedule and times for India

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The much-awaited summer of county cricket returns as Essex, the reigning champions, face Worcestershire in their first match of the County Championship 2021 on Thursday, April 8 at the County Ground in Chelmsford.

The championship, which returns after a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will have a revised format. The County Championship 2021 will be played in two stages. A county team is presented with an opportunity to win the Bob Willis Trophy besides the championship title.

Following the conclusion of the campaign, a review by counties, the England and Wales cricket board (ECB) and stakeholders will decide the format for next year’s championship.

What is the format for the County Championship 2021?

The 18 first-class counties are divided into three groups of six counties each, with the seedings decided on the basis of performances in the 2019 edition and the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy.

Essex is seeded first in Group A, which includes Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire and Durham. Somerset is placed ahead of Surrey in Group B while Kent headlines Group C.

County Championship 2021
Group A Group B Group C
Essex Somerset Kent
Warwickshire Hampshire Yorkshire
Nottinghamshire Surrey Lancashire
Derbyshire Gloucestershire Northamptonshire
Worcestershire Middlesex Glamorgan
Durham Leicestershire Sussex

In the group stage, each county will play the other - home and away - in a total of 10 matches. The opening nine rounds will be played on consecutive Thursdays, right up to the first week of June.

The final two rounds will then be played in July, with matches beginning on a Sunday. All 18 teams will be in action in the final round that commences on Sunday, July 11.

The top two sides from each group will then advance to Division One, while the third and fourth-placed teams going into Division Two and the fifth and sixth-placed teams moving into Division Three.

In the Division stage, counties will play their final four County Championship matches but won’t play those teams they faced twice in the group stage.

The top-ranked team in Division One will be crowned County Champions. They will then face the second-ranked team in the Bob Willis Trophy - scheduled from Tuesday, September 27 to Friday, October 1.

Key overseas players in County Championship 2021

The County Championship 2021 will reportedly have more overseas players taking part in the first-class cricket competition, with West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite (Gloucestershire) and pacers Alzarri Joseph (Worcestershire) and Kemar Roach (Surrey) set to play in the early part of the campaign.

Australian Test specialist Marnus Labsuchagne will return for Glamorgan while India’s Hanuma Vihari, who went unsold in the Indian T20 League auction, is set to link up with Warwickshire after their first-choice pick Pieter Malan couldn’t obtain a visa.

The 27-year-old Vihari will reportedly play three County Championship games but there is a possibility that he could feature in a few more.

County Championship 2021 schedule, fixtures and times for India

All match times are in Indian Standard Time (IST)

Group Stage

Thursday, April 8 - Sunday, April 11 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST)

Group A Group B Group C
Essex vs Worcestershire Gloucestershire vs Surrey Northamptonshire vs Kent
Nottinghamshire vs Durham Leicestershire vs Hampshire Sussex vs Lancashire
Warwickshire vs Derbyshire Middlesex vs Somerset Yorkshire vs Glamorgan

Thursday, April 15 - Sunday, April 18 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Nottinghamshire vs Warwickshire Surrey vs Leicestershire Glamorgan vs Sussex
Essex vs Durham Somerset vs Gloucestershire Kent vs Yorkshire
Derbyshire vs Worcestershire Hampshire vs Middlesex Lancashire vs Northamptonshire

Thursday, April 22 - Sunday, April 25 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Warwickshire vs Essex Leicestershire vs Somerset Northamptonshire vs Glamorgan
Worcestershire vs Nottinghamshire Middlesex vs Surrey Kent vs Lancashire
Durham vs Derbyshire Hampshire vs Gloucestershire Sussex vs Yorkshire

Thursday, April 29 - Sunday, May 2 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Durham vs Warwickshire Surrey vs Hampshire Northamptonshire vs Glamorgan
Worcestershire vs Essex Somerset vs Middlesex Glamorgan vs Kent
Derbyshire vs Nottinghamshire Gloucestershire vs Leicestershire Lancashire vs Sussex

Thursday, May 6 - Sunday, May 9 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Nottinghamshire vs Essex Hampshire vs Somerset Northamptonshire vs Sussex
Warwickshire vs Worcestershire Middlesex vs Gloucestershire Lancashire vs Glamorgan
- Leicestershire vs Surrey Yorkshire vs Kent

Thursday, May 13 - Sunday, April 16 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Durham vs Worcestershire Somerset vs Surrey Glamorgan vs Yorkshire
Essex vs Derbyshire Middlesex vs Hampshire Sussex vs Kent

Thursday, May 20 - Sunday, May 23 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Essex vs Warwickshire Surrey vs Middlesex Kent vs Glamorgan
Nottinghamshire vs Worcestershire Gloucestershire vs Somerset Northamptonshire vs Lancashire
Derbyshire vs Durham Hampshire vs Leicestershire -

Thursday, May 27 - Sunday, May 30 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Worcestershire vs Derbyshire Leicestershire vs Middlesex Sussex vs Northamptonshire
Warwickshire vs Nottinghamshire Surrey vs Gloucestershire Lancashire vs Yorkshire
Durham vs Essex - -

Thursday, June 3 - Sunday, June 6 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Derbyshire vs Warwickshire Leicestershire vs Gloucestershire Glamorgan vs Lancashire
Essex vs Nottinghamshire Somerset vs Hampshire Kent vs Northamptonshire
Worcestershire vs Durham - Yorkshire vs Sussex

Sunday, July 4 - Wednesday, July 7 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Warwickshire vs Durham Somerset vs Leicestershire Sussex vs Glamorgan
Nottinghamshire vs Derbyshire Hampshire vs Surrey Northamptonshire vs Yorkshire
- Gloucestershire vs Middlesex Lancashire vs Kent

Sunday, July 11 - Wednesday, April 14 (All matches to begin at 3:30 PM IST) 

Group A Group B Group C
Worcestershire vs Warwickshire Surrey vs Somerset Glamorgan vs Northamptonshire
Durham vs Nottinghamshire Middlesex vs Leicestershire Yorkshire vs Lancashire
Derbyshire vs Essex Gloucestershire vs Hampshire Kent vs Sussex

Division Stage: August 30, 2021 - September 24, 2021

Bob Willis Trophy Final: September 27, 2021 - October 1, 2021

Feature image courtesy: website / England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)

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