Ireland set for massive summer as Euro T20 Slam launched in Dublin
Bollywood came to Dublin yesterday as the Euro T20 Slam was launched at a spectacular ceremony in a city centre hotel.
India and Pakistan legends Dilip Vengsarkar, who played against Ireland in Downpatrick in 1986, and Wasim Akram were the chief guests in an hour-long extravaganza which revealed the six franchise names, the schedule of matches, plus three icon players and three marquee players.
Ireland's nemesis Rashid Khan leads the big-name overseas stars and the Afghanistan ace will be joined in Dublin, Edinburgh and Amsterdam by New Zealand's Brendon McCullum and Luke Ronchi; Australians Shane Watson, the third icon player, and Chris Lynn; plus Babar Azam from Pakistan.
Many of the Ireland squad were also in attendance including T20 captain Gary Wilson who, like everyone else, was impressed by the ceremony.
"A lot of work has gone into it and it promises to be a great tournament, really looking forward to it," he said.
"I would love to be able to play for the Belfast side, my own city, and I would take any of those icon players, they are all fantastic players, but if I had my pick it would have to be Rashid because I wouldn't have to play against him!"
The first match of the tournament will be in Amsterdam on Friday, August 30 between the Rotterdam Rhinos and the Amsterdam Kings, with the Belfast Titans facing the Glasgow Giants in the afternoon match.
The Dublin Chiefs start their campaign against the Edinburgh Rocks the following morning with the Titans back in action in the second game of the day against the Kings.
Both games between the two Irish franchises will be played when the Slam arrives in Malahide - Belfast will host the Irish games next year - the first on Friday, September 13 and the last of the 30 group matches on Thursday, September 19.
The semi-finals are in Malahide on Saturday, September 21 with the final the next day.
The ceremony, broadcast live on Facebook and blatantly catering towards the cricket-mad Indian audience, was hosted by Indian TV sports presenter Ridhima Pathak and featured Indian actress Yami Gautam, who has 3.7 million followers on Twitter. She broke a glass panel with a cricket bat to unveil the tournament logo.
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom told the audience that the event had been 20 months in the planning.
"I was first approached by (Indian promoters) Woods Entertainment in mid-2017 and the primary purpose is to make us more competitive in the fastest growing format," he said.
"We have not been as successful as we would have liked in T20 cricket and this was our motivation," he added.
"By playing alongside some of the best T20 players in the world, it will benefit our own players and hopefully engage the communities within the franchises and help grow the game."
The tournament will be the climax to what promises to be a memorable summer, with Ireland playing at least 14 matches across all three formats, and it should provide the perfect preparation for the World T20 qualifiers in the UAE in October, the most important tournament of the year.