Warwickshire 464 for 7 (Rhodes 151*, Yates 113, Sibley 57, Hain 55, Parkinson 3-71) lead Lancashire 78 by 386 runs

The LV= Insurance County Championship is set to remain a conference-based competition in 2022. But that will be the final season of the arrangement before a return to two divisions in 2023.

That is the basis of an ECB recommendation sent to the counties on Wednesday. The counties will then be required to vote on whether they accept the proposal in the next few days. It currently seems they are likely to do so.

While there had been an increased desire from the counties to return to two divisions with promotion and relegation for the 2022 season, it is understood that a meeting of the county chairs at Lord's on Wednesday accepted there were decent reasons for waiting an extra 12 months. In particular, there is a concern that a further spike in Covid - which appears to be anticipated for the winter of 2021-22 - might render a move to two-division cricket more challenging and encourage the regionalised conference schedule which has been used this year.

Finishing positions in the 2022 season would, in such a scenario, define the make-up of the divisions in 2023. That means the finishing positions achieved at the end of 2019, when Gloucestershire and Northants were among those who achieved promotion, would be void. It is anticipated that there would be 10 teams in division one and eight in division two.

It is understood there was no mention of the Bob Willis Trophy during the meeting, but it seems unlikely it will be played in 2022.

That maybe something of a relief to Lancashire. We are yet to reach the halfway stage of their Bob Willis Trophy match this year, but it has already been a chastening experience for them. Having been bowled out for 78 on day one - even that represented something of a recovery from 12 for 6 - they have spent the best part of five sessions since chasing leather around St John's Wood. By the end of the second day, Warwickshire had extended their lead to 386. It has been brutal.

From a Warwickshire perspective, of course, it has been perfect. Not only have they recorded the highest score at Lord's this season - in county cricket, a side had only reached 300 once in 2021 - but they have reached 400 themselves for the first time this year.

Their total has been built upon centuries from Will Rhodes and Rob Yates. While Rhodes, the captain, went on to record the bigger score, it may prove to be Yates' contribution which is more relevant. Paul Farbrace, the Warwickshire director of cricket, has long argued that Yates has the game - in particular, the temperament - to play at a higher level and has ensured the England scouts (notably, James Taylor) have been kept abreast of his development. Farbrace, at least, believes Yates should go to Australia on either the full England tour or as part of the Lions side.

On the evidence of this performance, it is hard to disagree. Compact, calm and capable of putting away anything overpitched or short, Yates recorded his fifth first-class century of the summer during this innings; nobody else has more than four. For a young man who doesn't finish university until June and who only celebrated his 22nd birthday a week ago, it is an outstanding start to his career.

It was a big day for his captain, too. While Rhodes has, with bat, ball and in the field, contributed throughout the Championship campaign, he prides himself on his ability with the bat and was more than a little frustrated not to have previously reached a century. To do so here, with the TV cameras present, will send him into the winter feeling substantially more contented with the world. For a Warwickshire side who have already decided not to sign an overseas batter for the Championship programme next year - their logic is that conditions in early-season England are so different and demanding that few if any overseas batters will be able to cope - it will also have been reassuring.

Sam Hain also impressed briefly for Warwickshire. But, despite having passed 50 eight times in first-class cricket this season, he has only recorded one century. His dismissal here, bowled by one which appeared to hold its own despite the slope, was no doubt the result of a fine delivery. But a straight bat might well have avoided it.

Matt Parkinson was, by some distance, the pick of the Lancashire bowlers. Despite little assistance from the conditions, he finished the day with three wickets and, in conceding 2.36 runs per-over, gave his captain a measure of control. The wicket of Michael Burgess, neatly stumped by Alex Davies having been drawn down the pitch and beaten by turn, was his 100th in first-class cricket.

Burgess, it might be noted, will retain the gloves for Warwickshire at the start of the 2022 Championship, despite the arrival of Davies, who has just signed from Lancashire. But Davies is keen take them from him. You suspect, therefore, he rather enjoyed this dismissal. Warwickshire's other targets were Phil Salt, who subsequently signed for Lancashire, and Dan Worrall, who subsequently signed for Surrey.

In between times, Yates was brilliantly caught by Luke Wells, at slip, off Parkinson as he attempted to up the pace, while the same pair also accounted for Tim Bresnan, who edged a leg-break. Matt Lamb was beaten by a nice one from Wells, the second leggie in the side, which clipped his off bail, while Danny Briggs edged his attempted force. Warwickshire lost three wickets for 17 runs in that little wobble. But when you have a lead in excess of 300 and three days to play, you can probably cope with such issues.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo