© Getty Images (Representation Image)
© Getty Images (Representation Image)

Only one team will be promoted to the County Championship First Division at the end of the coming season, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Monday. The change, agreed following meetings at Lord’s, has been made to bring an “improved shape” to the domestic season. The ECB announced that, from 2017, there will be a top division of eight teams and a second tier of 10 counties. In order to achieve that new balance, counties in the Second Division will be playing for just one promotion place this season — with two relegated, as in previous years. ALSO READ: Michael Holding agrees with Ricky Ponting on coin toss in Tests

The Championship will be run in segments of fixtures, pausing first during April and May for Royal London Cup matches, leading to a July final. Four-day cricket will again take a break during July and August, when the NatWest T20 Blast, retained in its established format, will take place. ECB chairman Colin Graves welcomed the alterations to the domestic calendar. “The changes for 2017 will be good for fans, players and our international teams,” he said. “The season is easier to follow; the blocks help players focus on specific skills, and there’s a better balance across all three formats.”

Earlier, English cricket will feature a major change to the tradition of the pre-match coin toss to decide which team bats first in 2016, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Thursday. In both tiers of next season’s County Championship, the visiting captain will be given the option of bowling first which, if he chooses to take, will see the toss rendered unnecessary. A coin will only be spun, as has been cricket’s tradition for over a hundred years, if the visiting captain rejects the chance to bowl first.