County fixtures: Yorkshire start title defence against Worcestershire

Yorkshire win the 2014 County Championship
Yorkshire's title win earlier this year was their first since 2001

Champions Yorkshire will travel to promoted Worcestershire in the opening round of the 2015 County Championship to start the defence of their title.

Jason Gillespie's side will launch the county season on 22 March when they play an MCC XI in Abu Dhabi in the traditional four-day curtain-raiser.

The Championship begins on 12 April, with promoted Hampshire facing Sussex.

The NatWest T20 Blast starts on 15 May and the Royal London One-Day Cup on 25 July, with holders Durham at Northants.

Opening round of Championship fixtures
Division OneDivision Two
Hampshire v SussexLeicestershire v Glamorgan
Middlesex v NottinghamshireNorthants v Gloucestershire
Somerset v Durham
Worcestershire v Yorkshire

The basic format for the summer remains unchanged with most Championship fixtures starting on Sundays, the majority of T20 Blast games on Friday evenings and the group stage of the 50-over One-Day Cup congested into a period of 26 days.

The opening round of Championship games will also see Middlesex, a disappointing seventh in 2014, at home to Nottinghamshire and Somerset, with new director of cricket Matthew Maynard in charge for the first time, playing host to 2013 champions Durham.

Only two matches will take place in Division Two in the opening week, with Leicestershire, who have not won a four-day game since 2012, but have a new head coach in Australian Andrew McDonald, taking on Glamorgan at Grace Road while relegated Northants, led by new four-day skipper Alex Wakely, at home to Gloucestershire.

Ashley Giles, newly installed as Lancashire director of cricket, will have to wait an extra week until 19 April before his side's opening fixture away to Derbyshire as they look to regain their place in Division One at the first attempt.

The second round of Division One games sees Yorkshire away again, this time meeting Notts at Trent Bridge, the ground where they clinched the title in September, while runners-up Warwickshire enter the fray by taking on 2014's Division Two champions Hampshire at Edgbaston.

Key dates
22 March: MCC v Yorkshire29 August: T20 Blast finals day
12 April: Championship starts19 September: One-Day Cup final
15 May: T20 Blast starts22 September: Final round of Championship games start
25 July: One-Day Cup starts

Lancashire's relegation means the only Roses clashes of the summer will take place in the T20 Blast, unless Lancashire and Yorkshire progress beyond the group stage of the One-Day Cup and are then drawn to face each other.

Yorkshire will host the first T20 Roses fixture at Headingley on 5 June, with the return game on 3 July.

Trophy holders Birmingham Bears, Warwickshire's guise for the format, who beat Lancashire by four runs in the 2014 final, meet Notts at Trent Bridge in their opening game on 15 May, with the two nine-team groups unchanged from 2014.

The final round of group games takes place on Friday, 24 July, with the quarter-finals taking place from 12-15 August.

Edgbaston will play host to finals day for the seventh time on Saturday, 29 August, six days later than this summer.

The One-Day Cup final at Lord's, which Durham won with victory over Warwickshire by three wickets this summer, will take place on 19 September.

The final again comes before the last round of Championship fixtures, starting on 22 September, in which Yorkshire will be at home to Sussex, who last won the title in 2007 but have boosted their pace bowling options by signing Ajmal Shahzad and Tymal Mills.

County-by-county fixtures

Royal London One-Day Cup groups

Group A: Surrey, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire, Northants, Leicestershire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Durham.

Group B: Kent, Hampshire, Sussex, Essex, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Glamorgan.

NatWest T20 Blast groups

North: Birmingham Bears (Warwickshire), Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Worcestershire, Northants.

South: Kent, Essex, Sussex, Hampshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Glamorgan.

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