As European eyes turn towards the new season in hope that despite the ravages of COVID-19 some cricket will be possible, the game’s governing bodies in Switzerland and Czechia have announced significant changes to their domestic competitions.
In Switzerland, looking to return to the international fold this year after a nine-year absence, a new eight-team Premier League will be established in the 40-over competition to sit above three regional divisions.
Based on results over the three seasons 2017-2019, the eight sides come from six different cantons, with Zürich represented by three clubs: Zürich Nomads, Zürich Crickets, and Power Winterthur. The other five are 2020 champions Geneva, runners-up St Gallen, Cossonay (Vaud), Olten (Solothurn) and Berne.
Competition is likely to be sharp, with the two bottom teams in the Premier League facing relegation to the Regional Leagues. There will be a play-off system involving the top two sides from each of the regions plus the two best third-placed teams contesting the two promotion spots.
The regional leagues will involve a further 14 clubs, with Zürich Crickets fielding their second team in the National League East. The West division will be centred on Geneva, with the Central division including teams from Basel and Aargau.
The same 23 sides will also contest the Mr Pickwick Twenty20 League, but in this case they will be divided into three divisions without any separation into premier and regional sections. Olten are the reigning champions in this format, having beaten Geneva in last year’s final.
Czech Cricket, meanwhile, has been able to expand its domestic T20 competition to three divisions, drawn from twelve clubs.
The new Division III will see three clubs make their competitive debut: Plzen Guardians, Prague Tigers and Olomouc. Cricket’s expansion to the cities of Plzen and Olomouc is a particularly positive development for a sport whose traditional centres are Prague, which boasts six clubs, and to a lesser extent Brno.
Division I will be contested by teams from five Prague clubs – Prague CC, Barbarians, Vinohrady, Spartans and Bohemians – and one from Brno CC.
Two sides each from Prague CC and Brno, together with one each from Spartans and United, will take part in Division II, while in the third division the three newcomers will join Moravian CC Brno, the Budějovice Barracudas and further teams from Vinohrady and the Barbarians to constitute a seven-team competition.
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