Toronto to host new Twenty20 cricket league

Cricket Canada has agreed a partnership with Indian media and entertainment company Mercuri Group to launch a new Twenty20 league in the country.

The Global T20 Canada is set to launch in July after being sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and will become the first league of its kind to be staged fully in North America.

Toronto is set to play host to the tournament. The ESPNcricinfo website said the Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City – which previously hosted a quadrangular series between Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Canada in 2008 – as well as Sunnybrook Park and Mavis Cricket Ground are expected to be named the host venues amid future plans to develop a new stadium in the city.

Mercuri has agreed a 25-year deal for the master licensing rights to the league and Cricket Canada president, Ranjit Saini, said it has already made a commitment of a “few million dollars” to explore the development of a stadium. “I think in the initial stages this year and probably next year, we will have to make do with the makeshift structures but we do have plans to build a stadium,” Saini told ESPNcricinfo.

The Global T20 Canada is set to comprise of six franchises, with one team set to be made up entirely of players from the West Indies. “The West Indies is a sponsor of the league,” Saini said. “The ICC approval is based on full member participation so one team will be a West Indian team.”

Saini has also maintained that the new venture will not be a repeat of the last high-profile cricket event to be staged in Toronto. A T20 All-Star event held at the Rogers Centre was hit by major financial problems which led to stars such as Brian Lara, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mark Boucher incurring losses for competing at the tournament.

“Very shortly, there will be efforts and agreements signed for the team owners,” Saini said. “Mercuri has the capacity at this time to own all the teams themselves and lease them out to different management. As we grow, there will be different owners. At this moment, the league is entirely owned by Mercuri and Cricket Canada is giving them the authority to own, sell or lease.”

The Global T20 Canada was unveiled at an event attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Indian city of Delhi yesterday (Thursday).