The Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands boards confirmed on Wednesday that the much rumoured European T20 franchise league will begin this season.
The competition will be between six- teams starting from August 30 to September 22 which will be hosted across all the three countries.
The new competition will see two franchises from each of the countries, based in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, competing in a double round-robin leading into semi finals. Squads will comprise a minimum of nine domestic players and up to seven overseas, with a minimum of six domestic players in the playing XI.
The competition is sanctioned under the auspices of Cricket Ireland, but is nonetheless the first multi-board collaborative franchise T20 league of its kind. Though in some respects it resembles the Scottish-Dutch North Sea Pro-Series which ran from 2014-2016 and was initially envisaged as a fully professional competition also including the Irish Interpro sides, but the project drew little attention external attention and eventually withered away for lack of funding.
Conversely, the new league has the backing and participation of an ICC Full member in Ireland, and looks to be on firmer footing financially – the initial agreement with sponsors and partners GS Holding and Woods Entertainment running for ten years.
The project is the culmination of a period of intensified cooperation between the European sides, who staged their first tri-lateral T20I series in the Netherlands last summer and met again last month in Muscat for a four-way T20 series with hosts Oman.
Ireland CEO Warren Deurtom 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.”
With the T20 WC Qualifier confirmed to be held in the UAE a month later, the new competition will also provide the three sides with valuable match practice in the lead up to the tournament. “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 time frame presenting an opportunity to play quality competitive cricket ahead of the T20 WC Global Qualifier in UAE in October” said Cricket Scotland CEO Malcom Cannon.
KNCB Chair Betty Timmer added, “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.”
An official launch revealing the names of the teams and the tournament and confirming venues is expected in April.