New English T20 League set to launch in 2020
The ECB is set to launch a new T20 tournament in the UK in 2020 but unlike the Vitality T20 Blast, this new T20 city Cricket English tournament will not be based on the county circuit. Efforts are being made for it to be held during the months of July and August 2020. It will last over 38 days.
The new, proposed T20 competition which will be played in the UK will essentially not be a T20 tournament if reports are to be believed. It will be a 15-over-a-side tournament to go with an extra 10 balls which could be used by the captains tactically through the innings. More details on this are still awaited.
One of the reasons for this so-called new format of the competition is to distinguish itself from the Vitality T20 Blast, formerly known as the NatWest T20 Blast, which will still run in conjunction with this yet-to-be-named 100-ball format tournament.
Speaking to the media, the ECB chairman Tom Harrison announced, “This is a fresh and exciting idea which will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game. Throughout its development, we have shown leadership, provided challenge and followed a process. We will continue to do that as the concept evolves.”
According to another board member, the additional 10 balls are expected to inject a “tactical dimension” to the game.
T20 City Teams
The new T20 tournament that the ECB has proposed will be based on the lines of the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash League with a total of eight teams in action. These city based T20 teams will cover regions in the country rather than the counties as has been the case in the NatWest T20 Blast and they will have names on the lines of how T20 tournaments around the world have – catchy.
The eight teams could be hosted at Lord’s, The Oval, Headingley, Swalec Stadium, Old Trafford, the Ageas Bowl, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. A ground like the London Stadium could also host some games in the tournament.
Potential T20 City Franchises in the new Twenty20 league: North London, South London, West (Cardiff, Bristol, Taunton), Red Rose (Old Trafford), White Rose (Headingley), Birmingham, Trent Bridge, South (Rose Bowl, Hampshire)
For now, what has been proposed is that the competition will be similar to the current format of the Big Bash League rather than the Indian Premier League. Till the sixth season of the BBL, a total of 32 league games were being played but from the seventh season onward, there will be 40 group matches. These will be followed by three knock-out encounters including the final. The IPL sees a total of 56 league matches and four play-offs. This new English T20 league will have around the number of games that the BBL has rather than the IPL. Expect some sort of a playoffs format as well – numbered to be 36 matches over 38 days for now. The T20 city teams will play four home and four away matches, three playoff games and a final.
What’s known so far is that the players will be selected in a Draft-like format instead of the Auction as is used in the Indian Premier League. The Draft is used in the Pakistan Super League and the Caribbean Premier League.
Each team will be allowed to sign up for 15 players. A total of three overseas players can be signed up by each of the eight sides. 13 of these 15 players will be selected via the Draft while two players will be wild-cards, selected from the NatWest T20 Blast that will be played just before it.
How to watch the new English T20 tournament live?
Rights will be sold to the winning broadcaster but efforts are on to ensure that few of the matches are also telecast live on free-to-air TV.
We are still in the very early stages of discussing the nitty-gritty of the new English T20 tournament, the one thing that remains almost sure is that if it does take place as planned, the battle for TV and media rights for the tournament will be hard-fought and one that will make the ECB richer by many a million pounds.
According to an exclusive report in The Telegraph, the English board could be looking at a sum of £1.25bn for a five-year period from its official broadcaster for the yet-to-be-named English T20 league that will kick-start in 2020. That marks a whopping three-time increase for its TV rights from what they get paid now for all live cricket in England. Sky Sports pays £75 million a year for this current deal.
The rights to this English T20 tournament will be divided into four packages to help terrestrial TV channels as well, and the bidding process will begin in May 2017. What makes it even better for the English cricket fans is that they will also telecast part of the tournament on free-to-air TV and that BBC looks to be interested in a deal that will encompass around eight games of this IPL & BBL-like competition.
The decision to telecast a few matches on FTA is based on ECB’s need to spread the tournament and create a following for it in order to then increase its rights value some years later. According to the aforementioned report, the BBC will give it the same kind of exposure that football’s FA Cup gets.
However, there will be a lot of competition for the terrestrial broadcasting of this new competition, which will run after the NatWest T20 Blast. ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are all set to make bids for anything that’s on offer from the ECB for free-to-air channels. Channel 5 already shows the Big Bash League in the UK and looks all set to add more cricket to its repertoire.
The TV rights to the whole competition will have Sky Sports and BT slugging it out but again, they will need to shell out a huge sum of money if they want to hold the rights of what could go on to become one of the most popular tournaments in the world.
Interestingly, the ECB has promised each county will receive a sum of £1.3 million per year if this tournament went through and they will need that kind of sum from their official broadcaster to make this tournament a viable one for them, financially.
There will be a discussion on how the new English T20 competition can be watched online as well but more on that when there’re more details released for the media.
Main England Players to feature in the Tournament
According to the latest news in England cricket, the country’s Test players could be allowed feature in a special auction designed to ensure participation in the T20 league supposed to be starting in 2020. The English T20 tournament is yet to be named.
A document circulated in British media contains specific clauses that outline an additional draft for the Test players in the national team who were previously thought to be unavailable for the original auction for the league.
Additionally, the document also holds the promise that each of the 18 counties will receive a minimum of £1.3 million from the England and Wales Cricket Board, despite the fact that they will be playing no part in the competition – which should allow the ECB a guarantee that the counties will release their players.
As the proposed competition is to be held in July and August, it was assumed that players on national duty would not be able to take part in it. However, it has since been clarified that should the possibility arise for them to play in the league, a separate draft will be organised for the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes.
The first of its kind draft puts the best of English talent on display in the hopes of getting the crowds in for the games. Each of the 8 teams will be allowed to pick 13 players from six pay bands named from A to F, combined with three overseas players per team.
Preemptive guesses made by the board suggest only about five players from each county will be offered a place in the new league. To add opportunities for the 150 plus county cricketers who would be left out by the initial draft, the league will allow wild card entries for two cricketers per team after the county NatWest Blast Twenty20.
Very specific rules have been drawn up for the draft, some of which allow teams to swap players in a 24-hour window after the initial auction so that they can balance squads. Teams will also be allowed the first bids on specific pay bands on a rotational basis, meaning a team which picks the first players in a round will be able to take only the last player in the next round.
Contracts will be for one year only but with the option of a second year at higher pay. Players whose clubs do not take up the option to renew their contracts will go back into the auction for the next year. A club can only retain eight players at most but will also need to retain four players at least from the first season into the next.
Coaches are also a budgeted item with the local ones free to work at any local venue of their choice.
An independent medical body will be set up to check and report on the injuries of players. This is being done so that clubs with seriously afflicted squads can address the issue by signing a replacement subject to the approval of the medical body.
A total of 36 matches over 38 days is being planned. Weekends with no Test cricket being played are being targeted so that two matches a day can take place on such dates to capitalise on the TV audience and build a following for the new league.
Currently, the base location for each team remains unknown, and the ECB meeting with the counties on March 27 should potentially throw some light on the matter.