NCU and North West confirm dates for T20 and longer form cricket/NCU opening fixtures confirmed

The Northern Cricket Union and North West Cricket Union have outlined how their 2021 domestic club seasons are expected to be structured.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:06 pm
Andy McBrine of Donemana plays a shot during the AIT20 semi-final between Donemana and CIYMS at Bready last September with wicketkeeper Chris Dougherty waiting for a mistake. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Both their campaigns will begin, as expected, with T20 cricket, but longer form cricket is expected to be introduced by the middle of June in both unions.

The NCU season will begin on Saturday, May 8 with Lagan Valley Steels T20 competitions.

In a statement, the NCU said it is targeting an indicative date of June 12 for a return to longer formats of the game. No 50-over cricket was played at club level during the truncated 2020 season.

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The Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup will see the eight Robinson Premier League clubs go head-to-head. Each club play each other once in a round-robin format, with the top four clubs in the league phase progressing to the semi-finals.

The opening round of matches will see defending champions CIYMS take on Woodvale at Belmont. North Down – beaten finalists last year – travel to Carrickfergus, Instonians host CSNI and Waringstown entertain Lisburn at The Lawn.

The North West Union said its White Horse T20 competition will also start on May 8 with the Longs Supervalue 40-over Premiership sharing the June 12 indicative start date targeted by the NCU.

At the minute no spectators will be permitted to watch matches on May 8, although strangely up to 100 people will be allowed into each ground. In many cases, there are fewer than 100 spectators at club matches,

With test events for thousands of spectators now under way in England, it is hoped that spectators will be able to watch games here at some point in May.

The NCU said: “Thate indicative date for longer formats is subject to change and is dependent on the progress of easing of government restrictions. If restrictions ease earlier than that date then some competitions, such as the Robinsons Services Senior League Section 1, may revert to a longer format earlier, which has already been discussed with those clubs involved.

“Updates regarding spectators and hospitality will be issued once further government guidelines are announced, however clubs are reminded that currently no spectators are permissible at any matches.”

The Lagan Valley Steels T20 Trophy will see the nine clubs from Robinson Services Section 1 play each other in a knock-out tournament. Clubs from Robinson Services Section 2 and 3 will compete in the Lagan Valley Steels T20 Shield and Lagan Valley Steels T20 Bowl respectively – these competitions will follow the same format as the Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup.

In addition, Lagan Valley Steels are supporting a new competition – the Lagan Valley Steels T20 Plate. This will give leading second XIs the chance to play competitive cricket in-line with their senior sides.

NCU general manager Angela Platt said: “We are delighted to announce the first block of fixtures for the 2021 season.

“After discussions with our own clubs and guidance from Sport Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities, we were able to develop this season schedule and help our clubs adhere to Covid-19 regulations.

“We are pleased to have Lagan Valley Steels on board again for 2021. We would like to thank them for their continued support during these difficult times – without them we wouldn’t be able to hold these competitions.”

Tommy Anderson, managing director of Lagan Valley Steels added: “Lagan Valley Steels are pleased to sponsor the NCU’s domestic T20 competitions for the 2021 season.

“We have been involved with these competitions for a number of years now and we enjoy supporting cricket in our local communities. We wish everyone the best of luck this year.”

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