ECB have been one of the foremost innovators in the game of cricket and the latest slam bang version of the game, T20 was invented by them in 2000s. However, it was the Indian cricket board, the BCCI, who took the format and turned it on its head by starting the Indian Premier League or IPL.
England had its own T20 league known as the NatWest T20 blast, but IPL changed the way how T20 made money for the BCCI. IPL’s format became the blueprint for all the subsequent T20 leagues in the world and now ECB have decided to take a page from IPL, in order to counter the same.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has proposed a new T20 league, that will have city based teams and an attractive winner’s purse. The league will not feature all the 18 counties and will run during the school summer holidays in 2020. It will have 8 teams and it will run parallel to the current NatWest blast T20 tournament.
The counties will vote to amend its own constitution for the yet to be named T20 league, breaking centuries old tradition. They however have been assured that a share of 1.3 million pounds a year will be given to them from the new tournament’s revenue.
"We recognise the challenges we face in cricket, including competition from other sports, driving participation, changing viewing habits, different working patterns and financial sustainability,” Harrison said.
In 2020, when the league starts, the IPL will be in its 13th year running and Australia’s Big Bash will be in its 9th year. But ECB have high hopes from the new league, as it will feature less number of teams and will be easy to schedule as it will take place in a finite number of weeks, unlike the 18 team Blast that takes place amongst the melee of different matches.
The new proposed tournament will have a run time of 5 weeks and will have 36 games. Already broadcasters like SKY and BT Sports are in running for the TV deal, but Harrison is looking for a free to air channel to air 8 of the proposed 36 matches. Players will be bought in a IPL style auction with promotions beginning in early 2020.
Likely venues are to be based around Lord's, The Oval, The Rose Bowl, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Old Trafford, Headingley with Bristol, Taunton and Cardiff sharing the eighth team. The whole tournament will be owned and run by ECB themselves.