Cricket Ireland is to enter two teams in a new European T20 cricket league being backed with serious financial heft from Indian media company GS Holdings and Woods Entertainment.
They are committed for ten years and will broadcast the tournament into markets around the world.
Without England, the tournament has the look of the Guinness PRO14 which has shown that a European based tournament has the legs to carry off real success without the biggest nations being involved.
It will feature two city-based franchise teams from each of Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands and will involve 33 matches across all three countries, featuring a Group Stage followed by semi-finals and a final.
Tournament rules will ensure that each franchise must have a minimum of nine domestic players, and up to a maximum of seven overseas players within their squads. Furthermore, the rules mandate that of the 11 players taking the field in each match, six players must be domestic players.
This will provide valuable experience for developing players but also a smattering of star quality with name players being brought in from established countries around the world.
“We are very excited that what has essentially been an 18-month project in planning is across the line,” said Warren Deutrom, CEO of Cricket Ireland.
“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.”
“It was also important for us, given our current work and investment into building the international and domestic structures required to compete successfully as a new Full Member of the ICC, that we found an event delivery and funding partner that would complement our strategic plans. In Woods and GS Holding Inc. we have some well-credentialled and experienced partners to provide this.”
“For Ireland, the current proposition is that one franchise team will be based in Dublin and another in Belfast. This promises to be an exciting venture for Irish cricket fans and we all look forward to seeing the tournament get underway in August.”
“It’s exciting to be able to extend our expertise to this new upcoming league,” added Gurmeet Singh, Founder of GS Holdings.
“Europe does not have any cricket league, which gives us the first mover advantage and allows us to build the sport here with utmost sincerity. We are extremely thankful to Cricket Ireland and the cricket boards of Netherlands and Scotland for trusting us with this and we look forward to creating magic in Europe.”
“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.”
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.