It has been delayed by a couple of months, but the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup Super League will finally get going on July 30 when England and Ireland face off in the first of three ODIs in Southampton.
Featuring 13 teams - the top 12 and Netherlands, who qualified by winning the ICC World Cricket Super League 2015-17 - the league will see each side play four home and four away three-match ODI series in a fixed timeframe, with the top seven sides apart from hosts India earning automatic qualification for the next 50-over World Cup, to be played in October-November 2023.
Each team gets ten points for a win, five for a tie, no result or abandonment and none for a loss. The five sides failing to qualify directly will play along with five Associate sides in the World Cup Qualifier 2023, with two teams from the Qualifier making it to the ten-team World Cup.
"The league will bring relevance and context to ODI cricket over the next three years, as qualification for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 is at stake," Geoff Allardice, ICC's general manager (cricket operations), said in a statement. "The Super League gives cricket fans around the world even more reasons to watch as the drama of league cricket unfolds.
"The decision last week to move the World Cup back to late 2023 gives us more time to schedule any games lost due to Covid-19 and preserve the integrity of the qualification process, meaning it will be decided on the field of play, which is important."
Ireland are already in England, and their preparations haven't gone particularly well so far. After an intra-squad warm-up game on July 22, they lost to England Lions by seven wickets on July 26 - both matches were played at the Ageas Bowl, the venue for the three ODIs.
"It's a privilege to be playing in the inaugural series of the ICC Men's World Cup Super League. It is obviously going to be a huge challenge taking on the team that won the World Cup just a year ago but we have prepared well and have taken confidence from our form over the early months of 2020," Andrew Balbirnie, the Ireland captain, said in the ICC statement. "What is important is that we are getting back on the field. I hope international cricket's return is steady during these challenging times.
"I look forward to the Irish side putting on a good performance in the upcoming series as we start our campaign for World Cup qualification."
Eoin Morgan, meanwhile, said, "Given the situation, it will be quite different to the last time we played at home, when we lifted the World Cup at Lord's, but it's nice to be starting our journey for the next edition of the tournament.
"I'm sure cricket fans all over the world will be excited to see white-ball cricket resume and we're looking forward to the challenge. Ireland are a talented team who have shown over the years that they can beat the best on their day. We look forward to what promises to be an interesting series."
The three matches will be played on July 30, August 1 and August 4.