The Northern Cricket Union and North West have both confirmed their seasons will start two weeks today, on Saturday May 8, with their Twenty20 competitions.

Although the Northern Ireland Executive this week gave the go-ahead for competitive sport (below elite level) to start next Friday – albeit without spectators - both unions have kept the first two weekends free to allow teams to play pre-season friendlies.

The plan at the moment is that the NCU will break into their T20s as soon as they get the go-ahead to play 50-over cricket – that should become clearer on Monday after a meeting with Sport NI and the Department of Communities – while the North West intend to complete their T20 competition before starting the League, which this year is being played as a 40-over competition in two groups.

Both Unions hope to play their Challenge and Senor Cups, as 50-over competitions, later in the season with the NCU likely to move their final back to mid-August.

The NCU’s Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup will involve the eight Premier League teams playing each other once with the top four going into knock-out semi-finals and a full 14-match 50-over Robinson Services Premier League is planned.

The NW T20 competition will be divided into three groups of five this year – one fewer group than last year - with the winners of each group plus the best second placed team going through to the Faughan Valley Cup semi-finals. Those groups are due to be announced early next week.

The NW League incorporates both the Premiership and Championship teams initially this season with a group of eight and a group of seven, although at the moment Donegal side St Johnston cannot take part.

After the teams in the two groups have played each other once, the top four in each group will then play the top four in the other group with the points carried forward.

At the end of the eight-team second stage, it will go to a knock-out competition with the final league positions determining the remaining fixtures as 1st will play 8th, 2nd v 7th, 3rd v 6th and 4th v 5th, ahead of semi-finals and a Grand Final, giving the finalists 14 (40-over) league matches.