ECB unveils new Twenty20 tournament
The much-anticipated English Premier League will get underway in 2010, with two divisions made up of ten teams, after the ECB unveiled a radical shake-up of the domestic game following its board meeting at Lord's.
In a unanimous decision, the format that has been agreed upon will involve all 18 first-class counties, plus two overseas sides to make up the numbers, with the matches to be played in the month of June. One of the teams will be provided by Allen Stanford and it is believed the other will be from India, with the winners of the IPL the likely choice.
A separate Twenty20 League for the 18 counties will then take place, primarily on Friday nights in July and August, and will act as the qualifier for the Champions League. The current Pro40 competition will be scrapped to make way for the competition.
"I am delighted that the board unanimously supported these creative proposals," said the ECB chairman, Giles Clarke. "I would like to congratulate everyone for their hard work and thank those who went to considerable time and trouble to produce documents for discussion.
"We have already received enormous broadcast and sponsor interest from around the world which was reported to the board by the chief executive David Collier."
The proposal that had been put forward by the MCC chief executive, Keith Bradshaw, and Surrey's chairman, David Stewart, for a nine-team league modelled on the Indian Premier League was rejected out of hand, although in a press release, Stewart threw his weight behind the new initiative. "These are extremely exciting and satisfying proposals for the future of domestic cricket in England and Wales," he said. "I am delighted to support them.
"They incorporate some excellent ideas and Keith Bradshaw and I were delighted to be able to submit our ideas as part of the decision making process and to build on the robust structure proposed by the ECB as a result of detailed consultations undertaken."
According to the ECB, the structure of the new league was decided upon following detailed market research in which spectators stated their desire to watch more Twenty20 cricket. Some of the funding ideas in Bradshaw and Stewart's plan were incorporated at the meeting.
The board also agreed the 2010 season would include a single 50-over competition and 16 County Championship matches in a two-division structure. "We looked at the Schofield Report, which stated that we should be playing competitions that mirror international competitions," Clarke told Sky Sports News.
"Spectators want to watch Twenty20 cricket on Friday nights, in the months of July, August and September, and the county championship in midweek. This is about giving the spectator what they want."
David Smith, Leicestershire's chief executive, told Cricinfo he was "delighted" with the announcement. "The ECB has got it right," he said. "It has maintained 16 four-day games which I think is sacrosanct for the development of Test cricket. We also needed a bit more Twenty20 and an EPL is an exciting prospect. It was obvious that one of the competitions had to go."