Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan (left) and Khalid Al Zarooni during the signing of the league agreement.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has announced its plan to stage UAE’s own exclusive T20 league featuring major international stars.
The cricket board said in a statement that the league has been sanctioned by Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, ECB Chairman and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.
It stated the event ‘will be held soon’, with dates being considered in December 2021 and January 2022.
The T20 league in the UAE will be a franchise-based event like the Indian Premier League, which will attract major international cricketers.
Dr Tayeb Kamali, ECB Board Member and Selection Committee Chairman, commented: “We are delighted with the launch of our own T20 League, one we believe will enhance the growth and popularity of cricket being played in the UAE. We also envisage that UAE-based players will continue to flourish through such opportunities as they continue to make their mark on the international stage.”
Khalid Al Zarooni, ECB Vice Chairman and Board Member, Asian Cricket Council, said: “We see this League as another premier addition to our growing tournament calendar. Emirates Cricket, and the UAE, has a proven history of identifying and embracing initiatives that underpin the success of the game, as well as encourage and develop home-grown talent.”
The announcement comes just days after the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi T10, during which several UAE-based players thrived alongside top stars of the game.
The ECB had also mooted a similar competition in the Emirates few years before. A number of players including Eoin Morgan, AB de Villiers and Andre Russell were roped in to play in a competition that was due to be known as the UAE T20x in December 2018.
That was cancelled a month before it was due to start, when only two of five planned franchises were purchased.
However, the ECB revised their plans and discussed launching a new franchise tournament in 2020, only for that to prove unfeasible because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, ECB is continuously striving to develop cricket and make a strong squad to boost their chances of qualifying for the upcoming 2023 World Cup to be held in India.
As a part of their strategy to develop a cricket at the grass-root level with an eye on the future, recently ECB organised a 4-match ODI series of the UAE with Ireland.
However, the series was reduced to two matches after a few COVID-19 cases were found during the tournament. UAE won the first match to take a 1-0 lead in the series before the next two games were cancelled and Ireland came back strong to win the last match as the series ended 1-1.
As a part of their development programme, the UAE also handed a central contract to players. The ECB selection committee officially announced the 20 players, who have been awarded contracts; 10 players will hold full-time contracts while 10 others have been retained on part-time contracts. The tenure of the contract is for a period of one year.
“The selection committee is delighted with the number of young and enthusiastic players we identified for this group. Every one of them bring a broad range of complementing skills required to strongly represent the UAE at both the associate and international stages,” said Dr Tayeb Kamali, Selection Committee, Chairman, ECB
“As we eagerly wait for ICC Men’s World Cup 2023 pathway to recommence, opportunities such as the Emirates D10 and Emirates D20 tournaments will help prepare this group into a cohesive and a high-performing team,” added Kamali.
Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary, Emirates Cricket said; “Such an increase in contracted player-numbers is a very rewarding milestone for our Board, and one we are committed to building upon to ensure that UAE Cricket has a good group of players to call on as we move towards restarting a regular playing calendar.”
In the meantime, ECB also successfully organised two leagues – D10 and D-20 – recently despite the coronavirus scare.
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