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The Northern Cricket Union and North West have both confirmed their seasons will start on Saturday, May 8 with their Twenty20 competitions. (stock photo)

The Northern Cricket Union and North West have both confirmed their seasons will start on Saturday, May 8 with their Twenty20 competitions. (stock photo)

The Northern Cricket Union and North West have both confirmed their seasons will start on Saturday, May 8 with their Twenty20 competitions. (stock photo)

The Northern Cricket Union and North West have both confirmed their seasons will start on Saturday, May 8 with their Twenty20 competitions.

Although the Northern Ireland Executive this week gave the go-ahead for competitive sport (below elite level) to start next Friday - albeit without spectators - both unions have kept the first two weekends free to allow pre-season friendlies.

The plan at the moment is that the NCU will break into their T20s as soon as they get the go-ahead to play 50-over cricket - that should become clearer on Monday after meetings with Sport NI and the Department for Communities - while the North West intend to complete their T20 competition before starting the league, which this year is being played as a 40-over competition in two groups.

Both Unions hope to play their Challenge and Senior Cups, as 50-over competitions, later in the season, with the NCU likely to move their final back to mid-August.

The NCU's Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup will involve the eight teams playing each other once, with the top four going through to knockout semi-finals, and a full 14-match 50-over Robinson Services Premier League is planned.

The White Horse T20 competition will be divided into three groups of five this year - one fewer group than last year - with the winners of each group plus the best second-placed team going through to the Faughan Valley Cup semi-finals. Those groups are due to be announced early next week.

The Long's Super Valu League incorporates both the Premiership and Championship teams initially this season with a group of eight and a group of seven, although at the moment Donegal side St Johnston cannot take part.

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