The ECB is set to confirm a window for The Hundred which will allow England's best-known players to participate in the first few games of the tournament next summer.
A 13-day window in England's international schedule will enable some England stars to participate early in the tournament, giving it a better chance to attract public interest. Several games in the tournament will be shown free-to-air on the BBC.
The first match in the competition will be played on Friday July 17 (the day after England play Australia in an ODI) with two games on each of the following days. The final will be held on August 15, with a reserve day in case of rain. England players are also expected to be made available for the final.
The new format could have implications on the legislation that allows foreign players to participate in it, with the ECB having second thoughts over a request to the Home Office to change the eligibility for work permit criteria specifically for the competition. The ECB have now asked the Home Office to grant work permits for all competitions if players have "played 20 ICC Full Member country domestic T20 matches between October 2017 - September 2019 (appearances are aggregated across all ICC Full Member T20 competitions)", in addition to the existing criteria which relate to international appearances. The Home Office have yet to confirm that criterion but are highly likely to do so.
The ECB has also relented on a previous decision to bar cricketers unqualified for England from next season's 50-over competition. While they had said previously the tournament should be viewed as a "development competition" - with no overseas players eligible to participate - they have subsequently had a change of heart on the grounds that the standard of the competition, which is taking place at the same time as The Hundred, could be diluted beyond an acceptable level. As a consequence, one unqualified player will be allowed per team, per game.
In recognition of the crowded schedule and the time required to register players, counties will be permitted to increase the number of overseas players registered at any particular time from the start of next year. It will not affect the number permitted to play in each game - which will remain two in T20 and one in the Championship - but next season counties will be allowed to have three overseas players registered at any one time in recognition of the crowded schedule and the time required to register players.
In a new look to the English season, the first Test of the summer of 2020 will start on June 4, with the final one starting on August 20. The schedule will also see a return to more T20 Blast games taking place on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays - the counties' favoured days for the tournament - with 105 of the 126 fixtures played on those days. The first round of Championship cricket will start on April 13; the final round is scheduled to finish on September 30.
The ECB are expected to announce in the coming weeks that there will be limited-overs games between the National Counties - the new name for the Minor Counties - and the first-class counties ahead of the 50-over competition that starts in mid-July, though games between counties and university centres are to have their status downgraded.