The 2017 County Championship will include a full round of day-night matches for the first time, with England players expected to be made available to feature.
Nine matches will be played under the lights, running from June 26-29, using pink balls in a bid to allow England players to prepare for their first day-night Test against the West Indies in August.
It is also hoped that the change to introduce a round of day-night games will provide a boost to the Championship, allowing fans to come in and watch the action after work.
“The counties have really embraced the potential of Championship matches that stretch well into the evening when people have finished school or work,” said Tom Harrison, the ECB’s Chief Executive Officer.
“There are some really attractive matches in the day-night round and it will be fascinating to see how it works out.”
DAY-NIGHT FIXTURES (JUNE 26-29, 2017)
SSCC Div One: Essex v Middlesex, Warwickshire v Lancashire, Yorkshire v Surrey, Hampshire v Somerset
SSCC Div Two: Durham v Worcestershire, Glamorgan v Derbyshire, Sussex v Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire v Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire v Kent
There have also been major changes to the County schedule for 2017, with a reduced programme of four-day matches. All teams will play 14 matches rather than 16, with eight teams in Division One and ten teams in Division Two.
Reigning Division One Champions Middlesex don’t get their title defence up and running until the second round of fixtures, where they will begin with a trip to the Ageas Bowl to take on Hampshire.
Yorkshire, who failed in their bid to claim a third successive title last year and have a new coach in Andrew Gale, kick off 2017 at home to Hampshire in the opening round on April 7.
The first Roses clash of the year is at Old Trafford on May 19. This years final round of fixtures will begin on Monday September 25.
OPENING SSCC FIXTURES (APRIL 7-10, 2017)
SSCC Div One: Essex v Lancashire, Surrey v Warwickshire, Yorkshire v Hampshire
SSCC Div Two: Kent v Gloucestershire, Leicestershire v Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire v Glamorgan
It’s not only the four-day schedule that has changed for 2017, with the Royal London One-Day Cup being moved towards the start of the County season. The competition will begin on April 27 and the final will be played at Lord’s on July 1.
2016 Champions Warwickshire will kick off their title defence with a trip to reigning T20 Blast champions Northants.
The T20 Blast will then start a week later and run through until the final on September 2. It’s hoped that playing the one-day competitions in smaller blocks will make it easier for the players and spectators as well as adding more context to the formats.
OPENING ONE-DAY CUP FIXTURES (APRIL 27, 2017)
Durham v Derbyshire, Glamorgan v Hampshire, Gloucestershire v Middlesex, Northamptonshire v Derbyshire, Worcestershire v Birmingham Bears, Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire