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March 28, 2008
Scottish cricket received a significant boost this week with the confirmation that a sponsor has been found to back a new national Twenty20 competition across Scotland this summer.
The format has proved one of the most popular innovations in the sport during the past three years and Scotland will now have its own tournament, with Glasgow-based sponsors, Murgitroyd and Company, agreeing on a two-year deal. It is believed to be worth five figures.
The existing 16-team Twenty20 events in the east and west of the country will be re-launched as the Murgitroyd Masterton Trophy and the Muritroyd Rowan Cup. In addition, two new regional competitions will be based in the Borders and the Caledonian district, and the four area winners will proceed to a high-profile national finals day at Shawholm, the home of Poloc CC, on August 3.
In its initial format, this seems an ideal opportunity for cricket to raise its profile throughout Scotland in the months ahead. And although the prize money on offer - £600 for the regional winners, with a further £1000 up for grabs for the overall champions - may not be huge at this stage, this development is the most positive thing to have happened in Scotland's game since the national side were invited to lock horns with the English counties in the NCL in 2003.
"This is a fantastic sponsorship, which will spark the imagination and enthusiasm of the participation clubs," said Cricket Scotland's chief executive, Roddy Smith, who has worked behind the scenes with Keith Young, the CEO of Murgitroyd, to get the tournament up and running as quickly as possible. "Practically all the sponsorship fund will be returned to the benefit of the participating clubs and district organisers, and it is tremendous news. The new event will enhance and extend the enjoyment and competitiveness which has been a feature of Twenty20 wherever it has been played and this is sure to generate good crowds."
Cricket Scotland has faced criticism for a number of policy decisions over the last couple of years, but on this issue, at least, they deserve praise. As Paul Hoffmann, a former international player whose belligerent batting is likely to make him a very dangerous opponent in the abbreviated game, remarked: "We've watched the way that Twenty20 has taken off in England and what a success they have made of their showpiece finals day, and it will be brilliant to have something similar up here in Scotland, because I'm sure that the cricketing public will be really enthused by this." So, one suspects, will Scottish-based TV producers, if the weather stays fair.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.