Teams across Europe are battling hard. As the summer season comes to an end, finals take place and trophies awarded. But this year, an extra prize is on offer: European Cricket League (ECL) qualification.
Disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 ECL. This created a challenging scenario for the 2021 event: teams that qualified for the 2020 event did not receive the reward they had earned. To provide fairness, a compromise was reached. In the case that domestic tournaments did not take place, the 2019 champion would return to the ECL in 2021. If a representative tournament did take place, either the 2020 champion would play in the ECL, or a playoff between the 2019 and 2020 champions would decide the qualifier.
As the season draws to a close, this compromise looms large. Many teams face high stakes knockout games, know the opportunity to play in the ‘Champions League of European Cricket’ awaits.
The T20 Competition in Denmark came to its conclusion last month. ECL 2019 semi-finalists defeated defending champions Skanderborg in the T20 final. To determine the Danish representative at ECL 21, Svanholm will face Skanderborg in a winner-takes-all playoff on Saturday.
Directly North, in Sweden, a new T10 competition will determine the 2021 qualifier. Over the last 2 weeks, 40 teams have been whittled down to 8. The final weekend sees the 8 remaining teams battle it out in the knockout stages across Saturday and Sunday. The tournament winner will take on 2019 T20 Champions Lund CC in a T10 playoff on Sunday afternoon. The winner of the playoff will travel to La Manga next year.
In France, this year’s Super-Ligue is a T10 competition, instead of the normal T20. This hasn’t been able to stop double-champions Dreux S.C.C. who have made it to a 4th consecutive final. The final takes place on Sunday, Dreux play PFC Sarcelles for a spot in next year’s ECL.
Germany also sees its T20 Meisterschaft conclude on Sunday. T20 finals day will see 4 clubs battle it out in 3 knockout matches. All 4 clubs are in search of a maiden title, including Kummerfeld Sport Verien, who defeated ECL 19 runners-up SG Findorff. Joining them are MSC Frankfurt who defeated 2019 champions SGA Darmstadt last month. The champion is expected to take on SGA Darmstadt in a qualifying playoff.
Saturday also sees the final of the All-Ireland T20 Cup. Leinster champions YMCA take on North-West champions Donemana. YMCA boast a star-studded line-up, including Irish internationals Simi Singh, Harry Tector and Curtis Campher. Adding to the side are Ireland Wolves players Tim and Jack Tector. Meanwhile, Donemana boast Ireland spinner Andy McBrine. The winners of Saturday’s final will take on 2019 champions CIYMS in an ECL qualifying playoff on Sunday. CIYMS, defeated by Donemana in the semi-finals last weekend, have 3 internationals in their ranks including Mark Adair, James Cameron-Dow and Jacob Mulder.
Earlier in the summer, Helsinki Gymkhana came from a 4th place finish in the Finnish Premier League to win the playoffs and become Finland’s representative at next year’s ECL. In Scandanavian neighboughs Norway, Sinsen CK won the 1st division. Currently, it’s unknown whether they’ll face off against 2019 winners Bjørvika in a playoff for ECL qualification.
No representative T20 competition has taken place in England, Scotland or Netherlands this summer. As a result, Swardeston, Forfarshire and HBS Crayenhout will all be heading to La Manga next year on the back of their 2019 results. VOC Rotterdam will return as defending champions.
In Belgium, the league competition took priority, with the T20 cup cancelled. It is not yet confirmed, but it is likely that the 2019 champions will return to next year’s ECL. Therefore, Ostende Exiles are expected to represent Belgium.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented any play from taking place in Russia this year. As a result, Moscow Foxes can be expected to represent Russia in 2021. Likewise, very little cricket has been completed in Romania this season. Whilst warmer weather in Romania means there is a chance of a representative season taking place, it is likely that Cluj CC will return to La Manga next year.
With a warmer climate, the cricket seasons in Italy and Spain can extend further into the autumn. The Italian Super Coppa is expected to conclude at the end of October, and the Spanish season may run until November.
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