Cricket Scotland chief executive Malcolm Cannon says that he “absolutely” has sympathy with his players in the wake of the Euro T20 Slam collapse, but insists the project will go ahead next year.
On Wednesday it was announced that the tournament, which was due to feature players such as World Cup-winning England captain Eoin Morgan and Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir, is to be postponed for a year.
The event was due to begin at the end of this month in Amsterdam and was to feature two teams from each of Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands.
The organisers said this week that they need the “necessary breathing space” to launch the competition and want to start it in 2020 and give it the “deserved noise level”.
Edinburgh Rocks and Glasgow Giants were to be the two Scottish franchises alongside Dublin Chiefs, Belfast Titans, Amsterdam Knights and Rotterdam Rhinos.
“Essentially we ran out of time,” said Cannon yesterday.
“Basically when we started talking about this last year we had two options – wait until 2020 or try to get it done in 2019.
“The 2020 option didn’t tap into the excitement that the Cricket World Cup was going to bring, which I think happened. It has elicited a lot of excitement both north and south of the Border. Nobody anticipated how exciting it would be, but we knew it would raise the interest levels.
“The other reason was to get it out before the ECB’s “The Hundred” tournament, which comes out next year. Those two very sound reasons meant trying to get it over the line in 2019. We knew it was a huge ask.”
The project was backed by an Indian company called Mercury, which is part of energy giant GS Holdings. For the last few years Mercury has successfully run the Global T20 in Canada, a tournament which has involved some of the best limited-overs players in the world, among them the West Indies’ Chris Gayle.
Cannon expressed frustration that the tournament, which was due to run from 30 August to 22 September this year, will now not go ahead, but was positive that it will be up and running next year.
“It is as complex an event of its kind [as] anyone has put on before. It’s three countries, three member boards, three venues, six franchises. Which is tricky,” he said.
“If you even think of the visa situation of getting these overseas players over, it’s a massive ask. We knew it was going to be. It was do-able. But it just came to just too much and we just ran out of time.
“In order to make the event as good as we wanted it to be we decided to postpone it until 2020. It deserves to be a great event and we didn’t want to compromise on quality.
“However, we now have to pick up the pieces and ask everyone who has been partially involved, or fully involved, to be still involved next year. Because it’s worth doing it right and now we have an extra year to do it.”
Cannon said the fact the announcement had caused such frustration was, in a way, a positive when looking at the potential a Euro T20 Slam competition offers.
“I’ll be honest, the disappointment – and I might put in brackets a bit of anger – at this cancellation merely shows that there is a massive appetite for this,” added Cannon. “Had there been no reaction to the announcement of the postponement we might have thought ‘well, there’s nothing there’, but the reaction I think goes to show we’ve got this right. We just need a bit more time to see it through properly.”
The Cricket Scotland chief, who has a background in the retail and property businesses, admitted that the decision of New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum to retire from cricket and end his association with the league had been a blow. McCullum had been due to be the Glasgow Giants’ star player.
“It was, but we were going to have Eoin Morgan, who only a few weeks ago lifted the World Cup, Rashid Khan, arguably the best spin bowler in the world, Kiwis like Martin Guptill who played in that World Cup final, Shahid Afridi – so we had a lot of great cricket cricketers and that would have brought the coverage any venture like this needs.”
Of course, those superstars will simply move on to the next lucrative engagement but Cannon admitted that the development was a huge setback for the native Scottish cricketers who were building up to this experience.
“Absolutely. This was a great opportunity not only to earn some money but also to play against some of the world’s greatest players. We have some very high -quality players and the opportunity will come around again.
“What we’ve got to do in the meantime is offer them alternative opportunities, not only to play and earn some money in the routine way they go about their business, but also in preparation for the Global T20 qualifier in the UAE in October. This would have been a fantastic warm-up, so we need to find some alternative plans. We’ll give them some games and training opportunities ahead of that.”