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Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Home start for champions Durham

Durham celebrate winning the 2008 title
Durham's title win earlier this year was the first in the club's history

Title-holders Durham will begin their 2009 Championship campaign with a home game against Yorkshire on 22 April.

It will be a difficult start for the north east county, who will be led by Will Smith following Dale Benkenstein's decision to give up the captaincy.

But they will have the benefit of having played the annual curtain-raiser against an MCC XI at Lord's on 9 April.

The Championship starts on 15 April with Somerset v Warwickshire and Hampshire v Worcestershire.

The season will run until 27 September when the final round of the Pro 40 takes place before making way for the new English Premier League in 2010.

The scheduling of the various one-day competitions follows a similar pattern to the past three seasons with the early stages of the Friends Provident Trophy followed by the Twenty20 Cup and then the Pro 40.

The Trophy group stage begins on 19 April with 2008 winners Essex in action against Northants at Chelmsford - the group are no longer regionalised and each features five teams, with the top two going through to the knockout phase.

Group A: Ireland, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Leicestershire

Group B: Scotland, Warwickshire, Kent, Somerset, Middlesex

Group C: Surrey, Durham, Gloucestershire, Yorkshire, Sussex

Group D: Essex, Glamorgan, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire

The competition reaches its climax with the final at Lord's on 25 July.

Fans of cricket in coloured kit will then turn their attention to the Twenty20 Cup quarter-finals, which will be played over three days from 27-29 July.

Finals day will be staged at Edgbaston on 15 August, with the winners in line to take part in the Champions League in India two months later.

The inaugural Champions League should have taken place earlier this month, with 2008 Twenty20 Cup winners Middlesex among the eight competiting teams, but was postponed following the terror attacks in Mumbai.

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see also
County ins & outs
21 Nov 08 |  Counties
Durham seal title as Kent go down
27 Sep 08 |  Counties
Goodwin fires Sussex to title win
14 Sep 08 |  Counties
Essex secure Lord's final glory
16 Aug 08 |  Counties
Middlesex win thrilling Cup final
26 Jul 08 |  Counties

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