Even before the Euro T20 Slam was cancelled yesterday for a second successive year, the release of the Test Triangle inter-provincial fixtures had sounded the death knell for the tournament.
Cricket Ireland yesterday announced that the T20 Inter-provincial Trophy will begin on Thursday, August 20, with each of the four teams playing the others home and away, followed by six games in two weeks in the 50-over Inter-provincial Cup for the three teams, starting on September 15. There will be no three-day Championship this season.
This was the latest window for the Slam and so, two hours after the dates and venues were announced, a further release from Cricket Ireland confirmed that the inaugural edition of the Slam, postponed from last year because of a lack of funds, would be further delayed by another 12 months, this time because of the "uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic".
However, the Euro T20 Slam board has stressed its commitment to the competition and "plans to launch the event in 2021".
Warren Deutrom, a Slam board member and Cricket Ireland chief executive, added: "We left the decision as late as possible to give ourselves the best chance to make it work. However, we have now run out of road, particularly with the Irish government's recent decision to delay the next stage of relaxing its restrictions to August 10.
"Even if it takes until the third time of asking, we still very much believe in the viability, purpose and interest in a European T20 franchise concept and will continue to do our best to bring it to fruition."
On behalf of Woods Entertainment, the joint promoters, Mr Prashant Mishra said: "We want to offer the cricketing public a competition that is truly world class - in playing talent, production value and experience. The signs are positive for the future of the event and our business partners have remained supportive throughout."
The inter-provincials will be played on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to leave the weekends free for club cricket, with the starting date carefully chosen as the first game is 15 days after the Ireland squad return from England and, under current Irish government regulations, players returning from Great Britain to the Republic must quarantine for 14 days.
The Northern Knights, skippered by Gary Wilson, will play their home T20 games at Comber, Stormont and the The Lawn, while the North West Warriors will have only two home games because, to save on travel, their matches against Munster Reds will be played on the same day at Balrothery, a halfway house neutral venue. The Knights, however, will travel to Cork on Tuesday, September 8.
The Knights' two home 50-over matches will be played at Shaw's Bridge, the second on Saturday, September 26, while all the Warriors' home games, in both formats, will be at Bready.
The women's equivalent, labelled this year as the Super 50s, has been confined to two teams and will consist of eight 50-over games to give the players preparation for the World Cup qualifying tournament which must be played before the end of the year.
The games will be on seven Sundays in August and September after the opening game at Pembroke on the Bank Holiday Monday in the Republic, August 3.
Venues for the last five games have still to be confirmed but one could be in the NCU area.
Explaining the rationale for hosting 50-over games while all club cricket this season is restricted to 20-over matches, performance director Richard Holdsworth explained that Cricket Ireland had the resources and ability to create safe environments for their elite players that cannot be implemented at recreational levels.
"A wide range of mitigating protocols will be put in place for these matches to ensure player, match official and staff safety, including pre-event health questionnaires, temperature checks for all and Cricket Ireland medical and support staff present to help ensure the safe and smooth operation of the matches," he said.
"Our plan is one of gradual introduction of 50-over cricket at an elite level in August and September within these highly-controlled environments."
Club cricket resumed in all four unions last Saturday.
Cork County and Cork Harlequins have suspended all club activity until further notice after a player reported feeling ill following Sunday's T20 Blast game between the teams. He has been tested for Covid-19.
T20 fixtures (1.30pm unless stated)
August 20: North West Warriors v North Knights (Bready), Leinster Lightning v Munster Reds (Pembroke).
August 25: Knights v Lightning (Comber, 3pm).
August 27: Lightning v Warriors (Pembroke), Knights v Reds (Stormont).
September 1: Knights v Warriors (The Lawn), Reds v Lightning (Mardyke).
September 3: Lightning v Knights (Pembroke, 3pm), Reds v Warriors (North County, 10.15am), Warriors v Reds (North County, 2.30pm).
September 8: Reds v Knights (Mardyke), Warriors v Knights (Bready).
50-over fixtures (all 10.15am)
Sept 15: Warriors v Knights (Bready).
Sept 17: Lightning v Knights (Malahide).
Sept 22: Warriors v Lightning (Bready).
Sept 24: Knights v Warriors (Shaw's Bridge).
Sept 26: Knights v Lightning (Shaw's Bridge).
Sept 28: Lightning v Warriors (Malahide).