On Tuesday, owner Gurmeet Singh launched his new Euro T20 Slam venture in Dublin. Three days later, Global T20 Canada – his first major play in the T20 league world – announced its second season would include a new franchise, the New York Legends. The team will replace the West Indies “B” team from year one.
Tournament dates of 25 July – 11 August 2019 have been confirmed, but as yet there has been no word as to squad makeups, nor any details of the draft, or salary bands across the six franchises.
Each 16-man squad was required to have four Canadians, and two other Associate overseas players on their 2018 roster. Frustratingly, there wasn’t any minimum requirement for Canadian/AM players in the starting XIs.
Stand out performers from the emerging cricket world were Babar Hayat (HK), Saad Bin Zafar (CAN), Ali Khan (USA) and Sandeep Lamichhane (NEP).
Hayat amassed 146 runs at the third highest strike rate in the top 20 run scorers, Ali Khan and Lamichanne claimed 10 and 8 wickets, respectively. Khan’s performance gained him a CPL recall – where he was equal third highest wicket-taker and affirmed himself as one of the best exponents of the yorker in franchise cricket.
Canadian Saad Bin Zafar put in the most complete performance; his left arm spin removed 8 opponents and he scored an unbeaten 79 in the final, only his third chance with the bat at GT20.
In a partnership with Cricket West Indies which seemingly only ran for the single year, GT20 2018 included the West Indies “B” development team among the six franchises. The Legends from New York will replace this side, in what appears to be an interesting move, considering USA Cricket is currently reviewing various proposals for a USA professional T20 league.
Last season was played between June 28 and July 15 – this year’s event start has been pushed back 10 days to avoid a clash with the world cup. The GT20 2019 final will be played on August 11, barely a week before the four-team Americas T20 World Cup Qualifier in Bermuda, and a mere 19 days before the inaugural Euro T20 Slam.
Gurmeet Singh has a 10-year deal with the boards of Ireland, Netherlands and Scotland for the Slam. His GT20 contract with Cricket Canada runs until 2042.
The GT20 format will be the same as last year with a total of 22 matches. Each team will play six round games (single round-robin plus an extra match), leading into another IPL-style eliminator finals series.
The Maple Leaf Cricket Club hosted all matches in season one. A 50-minute drive north of Toronto city, the facility was hampered by a number of issues – many stemming from the event’s short lead-in time and the fact the ground had virtually no permanent infrastructure. If GT20 continues at the same venue, organisers will no doubt be pushing for the experience both on and off the field to be a huge step up for 2019.
Brian Lara, no stranger to Associate T20 leagues – he was team mentor to 2018 HK T20 Blitz finalists Galaxy Gladiators Lantau – is a GT20 ambassador for 2019. He said “I was there to see the first edition of the league and was enormously impressed with the overall quality of cricket. Despite a few hiccups, Cricket Canada and GT20 team delivered an outstanding event.”
Also awaited since its announcement in January, is the list of contract players linked to GT20 (tweet above – but link is currently dead due to Cricket Canada reportedly upgrading their website) although from a conversation with a Canadian player on the sidelines of the recently concluded World Cricket League Division Two, it is understood these trials are/were for “rookie” contract only, and the GT20 2019 drafted Canadian players will be receiving the major deals. We’ll update this as more details become known.