Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
The board of the Euro T20 Slam is giving it the “best chance to succeed” and refusing to give up on hopes of the competition getting off the ground this year.
The inaugural edition was postponed last year because of lack of funds but Warren Deutrom, the Cricket Ireland chief executive and Slam board member, confirms that every effort is being made this year, with all options on the table.
(Cricket Ireland CEO and Euro Slam Board Member Warren Deutrom)
The Slam is due to be contested by six franchises, two each representing Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands, in the three host countries but with players in desperate need of action, that could be changed to have some sort of competition before the end of the season.
“There is the potential of a scaled-down competition and we are having meetings on a weekly basis and calls with the various stakeholders,” said Deutrom.
“Although the three countries are coming out of lockdown at different stages, reopening is taking place much quicker than expected and the competition has always been about performance opportunity for our players and never about the money.”
That opportunity for the players will be increasingly urgent if the T20 World Cup goes ahead as scheduled in October/November, or any time around the turn of the year and a final decision on that tournament is expected next month but Deutrom insists there is still time for the Slam to take place this year.
With club cricket able to get under way in all three countries in July, all three venues, in Dublin, Edinburgh and Amsterdam could be available but if travelling has to be restricted, the flexibility is there to host a reduced tournament at one ground, with Malahide the favourite.
When the Slam was cancelled last year, Ireland hosted Scotland and Netherlands in a Tri-Nations tournament less than a month later, so there is still time for meaningful T20 action this year, especially if the T20 World Cup gets the go-ahead.
Meanwhile, the ECB is due to give the green light shortly for Ireland’s three-match one-day international series against England. The venue will be the bio-secure site at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton and the expected dates are July 30, August 1 and 4.
The ECB are also organising warm-up games for the Ireland squad – which like the ODIs will be behind closed doors - including at least one against England Lions, although unless the rules change in the next month, when the players who live in the Republic fly back on August 5, they will have to quarantine for 14 days!
That, in turn, would have an impact on the resumption of any inter-provincial games which Cricket Ireland are still planning for and hoping to get under way in August.
If there is an appetite from the clubs for a probable scaled down Irish Cup, that could also take place.
On the club front, the North West are the first union to react to the earlier easing of lockdown restrictions and are planning to start the season on Saturday July 18.