Rugby provides blueprint for league proposals
Neil Drysdale (The Herald)
Scottish and Irish cricket officials have thrown their weight behind the creation of a new European League. The proposal, which would be organised on similar lines to rugby union's successful RaboDirect competition, would feature regional teams from Scotland, Ireland, The Netherlands, and possibly Denmark and the Channel Islands, and could be up and running as early as the summer of 2014.
Many details have still to be finalised, but the event would feature eight or 10 teams, matches would be in the Twenty20 and 50 overs-a-side formats, and they would be contested on a home-and-away basis. There is a new urgency about establishing a higher tier of cricket for the elite Associate players in Europe, following the recent confirmation that the Scots and the Dutch will not be involved in action against the English counties after the end of next season.
"It is a sound concept and we have been talking to the Irish and Dutch about something on these lines for a while," said Andy Tennant, the performance director of Cricket Scotland. "When we re-launched the Regional Series in 2010, it was always in the back of our minds that a European League had merit and we don't live in a bubble, so we can see how rugby has benefited from the development of a Celtic and then Magners [and RaboDirect] League.
"We are all at different stages just now, but most people seem enthusiastic about this proposal. I think there is a general recognition that we need to develop a professional or semi-professional structure to straddle the yawning chasm between domestic club games and the international circuit."
Tennant's positivity was echoed by Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, whose body is striving to bolster their district structure, in advance of entering a cross-border tournament in the future. "The idea of a European provincial league, a la the RaboDirect should certainly be a short to medium-term objective. It has both cricketing and, hopefully, commercial appeal," said Deutrom.
"Our short-term objective in 2013 is to properly establish the inter-provincial set-up in Ireland and give the teams an opportunity to establish themselves properly, before we start unleashing them on the world!"