The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday approved the Performance Cricket Committee’s (PCC) recommendation to increase the number of unqualified or overseas cricketers in first-class and List A competitions from next season.

“First-class counties will be permitted to field a total of two unqualified cricketers in the same match in the County Championship and Royal London Cup from 2021,” ECB said in a statement on Friday.

“This represents an increase from the one unqualified cricketer that First-Class Counties are currently permitted to field in those two competitions,” the governing body added.

The rule for the T20 competition of the country, which is the T20 Vitality Blast, will remain unchanged as it already allows teams to field two unqualified cricketers.

PCC chair Andrew Strauss said: “There is an important balance to be struck to ensure the need for good foreign players in county cricket and providing opportunity for nine England-qualified players in each county team.

“There are clearly long-established benefits for our domestic players to compete against and learn from the best players from across the world in addition to providing high-quality domestic cricket for county members and fans to enjoy.

“An increase in unqualified cricketers allow first-class counties to maintain that standard while also enabling them to plan and prepare for next summer,” he added.

Meanwhile, the ECB on Friday also announced that the United Kingdom government has allowed the return of recreational cricket in the country from July 11.

England will also mark the resumption of international cricket when they host the West Indies for a three-match Test series from July 8 in a bio-secure environment.

The first Test is scheduled to be played at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton (July 8-12) with the second and third matches at Old Trafford in Manchester from July 16-20 and then July 24-28.