The European Cricket League will take on a new look for the event’s 2021 edition, due to run from 31st May to 25th June 2021. The draw for the 16 team tournament took place on 21st December.
The new format will see 15 national champions split into three groups of five. Each group will take place over a separate week. Group A takes place between 31st May and 4th June, Group B from 7th June to 11th June and so on. Each group will feature a double-round robin between Monday and Thursday of each week. A four-match eliminator playoff follows the group stage on the Friday of each week.
The winner of each group will return for finals week between 21st and 25th June. The group winners will join defending champions V.O.C. Rotterdam and the best runner-up from the three groups. The five teams will play to be crowned ‘Kings of Europe’ in the same fashion as the group stages.
The new format is designed to provide each club with more matches, with each club playing a minimum of eight, up from three in 2019 and the proposed 2020 event. However, this comes with an increase in the total number of games, up to 96 from 31 in 2020.
The draw for the 2021 European Cricket League took place on Monday, presented by ECL’s Vinny Sandhu. The presentation also featured guest appearances from ECL founder Daniel Weston and commentator Michael McCann.
With no national competitions taking place in several European countries, a handful of teams carried over from the 2020 draw. These included Swardeston CC, Forfarshire CC, Cluj CC, Ostend Exiles and Moscow Foxes. Several other teams, including Ireland’s CIYMS CC and Dreux SCC of France returned after defending their national championship or winning a playoff. A T20 tournament was played in the Netherlands, but due to the absence of overseas players, winners VRA Amsterdam were not put forward by the KNCB. Instead, HBS Crayenhout retained thier spot. The Spanish representative remains unknown, with the national final postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Fifteen national champions were placed into 3 pots based on their nation’s ICC ranking. Pot 1 included Swardeston CC from England, CIYMS from Ireland and Forfarshire from Scotland. Pot 2 and pot 3 each contained 6 teams. Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Romania all saw their clubs entered pot 2. Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, France and Russia entered in pot 3.
The teams were drawn as follows, with VOC Rotterdam receiving a bye to finals week:
Group A: Dreux (France), Minhaj/La Manga Torrevieja (Spain), Darmstadt (Germany), Brescia (Italy), Swardeston (England)
Group B: Lund (Sweden), Ostende Exiles (Belgium), HBS Crayenhout (Netherlands), Bjørvika (Norway), Forfarshire (Scotland)
Group C: Moscow Foxes (Russia), Helsinki Gymkhana (Finland), Svanholm (Denmark), Cluj (Romania), CIYMS (Ireland)
The draw therefore carries over several of the matchups from the 2020 edition. For the second time, Swardeston CC drew against FCA 04 Darmstadt CC, meaning the ‘England’ vs ‘Germany’ clash returns. Also redrawn were HBS Crayenhout and Forfarshire CC as they were in 2020. Cluj CC and Moscow Foxes will both go in search of the nation’s first ECL as the would have in 2020, and Dreux will face up against Minhaj should they win the Spanish final.
The 2021 event is the final event at 16 teams before the ECL expands to a 30-team competition in 2022.
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