Emirates Cricket Board, the governing body for the sport of cricket in the UAE, has revealed plans for a new franchisee based T20 league. Unveiled as ‘UAE’s first T20 Festival of Cricket’, the league will be the most progressive, inclusive and first-of-its-kind in the world, the board has stated in a media note.
ECB has said that it has signed a 10-year sanctioning agreement for the new league with the International Cricket Council (ICC). The league, the name of which is yet to be revealed, will be formally unveiled later this month.
The inaugural franchisee based league will witness 22 matches across 24 days between December 2018 and January 2019. The matches will be played across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah.
The five franchises will comprise squads of 16 players – featuring six international stars, two emerging players from ICC full member countries, three players from ICC associate member nations, two junior players and three UAE cricketers.
The ECB claims the league has already received the support of six ICC full member nations – England, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, New Zealand and the West Indies. David East, chief executive of the ECB, stated: “Our firm aim is for this event to take the sport to all corners of the UAE and to develop cricket at a grassroots level initially in – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah. This will not be just another T20 tournament, it will be a true international festival of sport and the hottest cricket ticket in the UAE.”
Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the league’s board of directors, former chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and ECB board member, feels that the new competition will create a unique platform for the development of the best young cricketers around the globe.
“Our intention is to build a new event that is here to stay, and one that occupies a niche position in the international cricket calendar. We are not looking to compete with other T20 leagues, we are looking to develop an international festival of cricket that exists first and foremost for the benefit of the players, and with a very specific goal of helping to develop new talent from around the world and grow the game in keeping with global best practices,” he said.
“Our players will be at the heart of the action, entertaining and playing the game to the limit, looking to make a name for themselves and a mark on the world of T20. The diversity of players that will compete in this new event will represent the great diversity of the UAE – players of all nationalities love playing and staying in the UAE, with a lifestyle beyond compare. This is a chance for them to come to a winter sports super hub and play seven-star cricket in a competition that will be world-class in its design, organisation, management, quality, sound practices, compliance with rules and regulations, profile, innovation and fan experience,” he added.
Zayed Abbas, ECB board member and official spokesperson, is convinced it will only develop the game in the UAE, “We are confident that this new event will play a big role in growing the game, inspiring, promoting and developing the sport in order to add to the already world-leading UAE cricketing and sporting landscape.”