LONDON: A new city-based T20 tournament to rival Australia’s Big Bash and India’s IPL is set to be introduced into English domestic cricket next season to ramp up interest in the sport.
The new eight-team tournament, which hopes to attract leading players from around the world, will run in addition to the existing T20 Blast competition involving all 18 first-class counties and is designed to draw in a new generation of cricket fans.
One of the biggest hurdles to the new tournament getting off the drawing board was cleared when it received backing from a majority of county representatives.
Unlike other similar tournaments elsewhere in the world such as the Indian Premier League, it is envisaged the new event will see proceeds ploughed back into the 18 first-class counties and not into the hands of privately operated franchises.
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves, who once labelled the Blast “mediocre” and has long been an advocate of a new competition, said Wednesday: “We’ve all been looking at how we can use domestic T20 for an even bigger purpose, especially getting more young people to play.”
Graves added: “This format (T20) was invented here and is successful worldwide.
“It can excite new fans, attract the best players and fuel the future of the game on and off the pitch,” added Graves, following a reported 16-3 vote in favour by the counties and MCC, the owners of London’s Lord’s Cricket Ground.
But there are still two formal hurdles the new tournament needs to clear.
The ECB will have to consider the proposal at its next board meeting and a subsequent further vote will be required to change the governing body’s constitution.
It presently states that any professional competition under its authority must include the first-class counties.
“The need to grow interest and participation in the game we love is at the core of our thinking, and this is a rigorous process,” said Graves.
“We’ve talked to each county individually about the need for change, a range of potential options and the implications.
“The next steps for us all, as a game, will be to extend the discussions and get valuable input from players, members and other key voices across the game.”
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, each of the 18 counties would share in the potential financial gains from a new tournament arising out of television rights, marketing and sponsorship.
Estimates are that a modestly resourced side such as Derbyshire, who are unlikely to see one of the teams in the new tournament based in their county boundaries, could be in line for a £1.5 million windfall ($2 million, 1.8 million euros), which would be a huge boost to the Midlands club.