A day after the International Cricket Council has raised concerns about mushrooming international T20 Leagues, a new European T20 cricket league has been sanctioned by Cricket Ireland.
Cricket Ireland, Cricket Netherlands and Cricket Scotland have reached an agreement to conduct the league from August 30 to September 22.
The new T20 league will feature city-based franchise teams (two from each country), have 33 matches across all three countries on the group stage format followed by the semi-finals and the final.
Each franchise must have a minimum of nine domestic players, and up to a maximum of seven overseas players in their squads. The playing 11 must include six domestic players.
The tournament, developed following consultation with ICC, will be delivered under an initial 10-year agreement with event and funding partners GS Holding Inc. and Woods Entertainment, and will be broadcast in cricket markets globally.
A Governing Committee comprising representatives from GS Holding Inc./Woods and the participating cricket boards will be established to oversee the tournament.
Warren Deutrom, Chief Executive of Cricket Ireland, said “We are very excited that what has essentially been an 18-month project in planning is across the line. The quality and competitive performances in white-ball cricket played by the three nations involved has been on full display over recent years, and we saw a joint competition as the best means of ensuring that there would be high quality cricket for the players and fans to enjoy.
“The global rise of T20 franchise cricket is a phenomenon within our sport, and there is no secret that Ireland’s performances at this format of the game have not been where we have wanted over the last few years. That, for us, was one of the prime motivators for such a competition – to provide greater opportunities for Irish players to play top quality T20 cricket. The ability to play alongside a range of experienced international cricketers will only benefit both the established and emerging Irish talent that will be involved over the next decade.”
Malcolm Cannon, Chief Executive of Cricket Scotland, said: “Cricket Scotland is always looking for more fixtures against high-quality opposition to develop the talent in our national team. The proposal for a six-team European tournament featuring teams from Ireland and Netherlands, provides an excellent basis for Scottish cricket to prosper.
“Off the back of our highest ever global T20I ranking of 11th, the tournament comes at a fantastic time for Scottish cricket. The chance to play alongside some of the best in the business will provide a great opportunity for our players to learn and develop their own skillset as we strive to achieve Full Membership and climb the ICC team rankings.
“The league also comes at an important time of year for Scotland, with the proposed timeframe presenting an opportunity to play quality competitive cricket ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup Global Qualifier in UAE in October.”
Betty Timmer, Chair of KNCB, said: “We are very excited to participate in the new European T20 League which starts in August 2019. In recent months, the three cricket boards have shown that European cooperation is possible and we thank Cricket Ireland for this great initiative to put T20 cricket in Europe on the map.
“For some time, Ireland and Scotland have been competitive opponents and we need each other to continue to perform at a high level. This new T20 league is a great opportunity for the Dutch players to gain more T20 experience at a high level and to play in a team with highly experienced international cricketers.”
Prashant Ramesh Mishra, Managing Partner – Woods Entertainment, added: “It has been an exercise of around 18 months for us and I must say that the way Cricket Ireland has worked towards developing every stage to come till this sanction has been extremely professional and commendable. It reinstates our belief that we have great partners to work with.
“Unlike the other T20 leagues, this has teams representing different nations of one continent and not just cities of one nation. This widens the reach of team loyalties and helps us look deeper into unexplored cricket markets. Cricket will surely be loved here and since the format is so fast paced and energetic, we can certainly expect a blockbuster tournament.”
The benefits of the tournament go beyond the playing staff, with coaches and support staff of national sides being permitted to participate in the franchise teams as long as there is no conflicts with their national duties. The competition will furthermore provide opportunities for local umpires and match officials to be involved in the operations of the tournament.
A formal launch of the competition is expected to be held in April 2019 at which the name of the tournament and confirmation of venues will be unveiled.