Bob Willis’ name will adorn a one-off men’s red-ball tournament after his former England team-mate, and close friend, Sir Ian Botham proposed the idea as a tribute following his death in December last year at the age of 70.

Willis claimed a then record 325 wickets, from 90 Test caps, during an international career which was highlighted by his fierce determination – most significantly against Australia at Emerald Headingley in 1981 – and an endearing persona than won him admirers across the world.

Here is all you need to know about the new contest:

The Bob Willis Trophy will hold first-class status and is a separate competition to the County Championship. Changes to playing conditions and guidance is for the Bob Willis Trophy only and will only affect that tournament.

What are the groups?

NORTH GROUP: Derbyshire, Durham, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire.

CENTRAL GROUP: Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Worcestershire.

SOUTH GROUP: Essex, Kent, Hampshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex.


The loan system has been relaxed this summer so that FCCs can loan a player from another FCC for a minimum of one week.

Points system

During the Bob Willis Trophy points awarded for a draw will be increase from five (in the County Championship) to eight points. All other points scoring will remain the same as in the County Championship. This change in points awarded for a draw is to help mitigate against the impact of weather during a shortened competition.

Why not just play a shortened County Championship?

On June 29 the First-Class Counties agreed to play red-ball and white-ball cricket in this shortened summer and, after the opening 10 rounds of the County Championship were lost due to the pandemic, a truncated red-ball competition was needed.

The 18 First-Class Counties worked closely with ECB to plan a tournament that could be staged within strict health and safety protocols and included minimising travel and need for overnight hotel stays while adhering to Government guidance.

That has resulted in a regionalised competition that will not only ensure age-old rivalries are played out each round but also that all 18 First-Class Counties have a chance to win the competition.

Will the point-scoring system be different from the County Championship?

Yes. The number of points on offer for a draw will be eight an increase from the five points for a draw in the County Championship. This change has been made to help mitigate against the impact of weather in a shortened competition. All other points scoring will be the same as in the County Championship.

Will the winning county be presented with the County Championship trophy or a new trophy?

A new trophy will be presented to the champions. The trophy is set to feature a cuboid design painted by Bob Willis’ wife Lauren, following his death last year, and which captures his iconic bowling action in full flow.

What happens if the final is a draw?

In the event of a drawn final there will be one tie-breaker option. That option is that the county which leads on first innings, as long as there were two fully-completed first innings, would be deemed the winner of the final. In any other circumstance a drawn or tied final will see the trophy shared by the finalists.