The domestic cricket season has well and truly begun. While the Indian cricket fans immerse themselves in the fervour of the Indian Premier League, England is bracing for their own limited overs domestic competitions. The fifth edition of the Royal England Cup is set to begin from 17 May with five matches in the season opener.
The defending champions Nottinghamshire start their campaign against Liam Livingstone led Lancashire in Old Trafford, Manchester on 17th May whereas last year’s other finalist Surrey get their season underway against Somerset on 18th.
In a gruelling round robin format with the 18 teams divided into north and south zones, the zone leaders will directly advance to the semifinals while the runners up and the second runners up from both the zones will battle for the other two semifinal spots on 14th June.
All the eighteen teams will have their eyes set on the big prize of the Royal London Cup and the finals will be played on 30th June at the Mecca of cricket - Lord’s, London.
England and Wales Cricket Board will have their county championship going alongside the the limited overs cricket and with the T20 Blast starting in July, the players will be eager to perform well for their respective county. The English players in the fringes of national team will have added incentive to perform with an intense home series against Indian team around the corner.
The tournament that took over from ECB40 tournament in 2014 commands immense popularity in England due to the flair and action of limited overs cricket and also because county cricket is an integral part of English summer.
Durham won the first ever Royal London Cup in 2014 beating Warwickshire. Last year, Nottinghamshire rode upon Alex Hales heroics who single handedly drove his team out of abyss and guided them to an improbable victory against Surrey to lift their maiden title.
With almost every team equally balanced and competitive on paper, this year’s tournament guarantees to have its share of thrilling cricket and close finishes.