Relegated Durham start Division Two life at home against Nottinghamshire

• Durham went down after £3.8m bailout by England and Wales Cricket Board
• Day-night county matches start in late June before first floodlit Test

Life in Division Two for Durham will begin at home against Nottinghamshire as part of a domestic fixture schedule for 2017 that includes a first-ever round of day‑night Championship matches, for which England’s Test players will be available.

Durham, who finished fourth in Division One last season, had their 11-year spell in the top flight ended last month when they were relegated and hit with a 48-point deduction from the start of next season as part of their £3.8m bailout by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

After sitting out the first round of fixtures, Paul Collingwood’s side will host Nottinghamshire from 14 April – the visitors will also be adjusting to life in the second tier after finishing bottom of Division One – while the champions, Middlesex, begin their title defence on the same day away against Hampshire, the club saved by Durham’s demotion.

The English season will have a new look overall with the group stage of the Royal London Cup played in May - the final of which will be held at Lord’s on 1 July - while the bulk of the NatWest T20 Blast will be played in two blocks across July and August before Finals Day at Edgbaston on 2 September.

The most eye-catching change comes in the County Championship with the introduction of a round of nine day-night fixtures that will start from 26 June with England’s cricketers free to play as they prepare for their first floodlit Test at home against West Indies at Edgbaston starting on 17 August.

The floodlit round will have matches hosted by Essex, Hampshire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire in Division One and Durham , Glamorgan, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Sussex in Division Two, with Derbyshire also playing a three-day floodlit tour match against West Indies starting on 11 August.

“It was important for us to arrange a full round of fixtures to give our England players the chance to experience the conditions,” said Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive.

“But just as we wanted to assess the impact of making Test cricket more accessible by changing the hours of play, the counties have really embraced the potential of Championship matches that stretch well into the evening when people have finished school or work.”

Floodlit fixtures (all start 26 June)

Division One Essex v Middlesex, Hampshire v Somerset, Warwickshire v Lancashire, Yorkshire v Surrey

Division Two Durham v Worcestershire, Glamorgan v Derbyshire, Northamptonshire v Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire v Kent, Sussex v Gloucestershire

Contributor

Ali Martin

The GuardianTramp

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