Dubai: Shahid Afridi wants the UAE to stage the International Cricket Council (ICC) World T20 World Cup tournament in future. Always a darling of the cricket fans here, he now spends more time in the UAE playing for the franchise cricket leagues being held here.
Speaking to Gulf News on Tuesday evening, Afridi said: “It will be a great initiative to bring the Twenty20 World Cup here because expatriates from all countries are here and they can get to watch it. The venues here such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have proved to be ideal for T20 cricket. The T20 World Cup is a big event and ICC should think about staging it here.”
Afridi makes no bones about his opinion that shorter format cricket is the future.
“More people are taking interest in formats like T20 and T10. They are good formats for entertainment and cricket is meant to entertain the people and today all are enjoying the short format,” said Afridi, who will be one among the leading players in the oncoming UAE T20x tournament to be held from December 19 to January 11
“UAE T20x will be another opportunity for all the players taking part in it, especially the local talent in UAE. It is a good opportunity for them to learn from the big names that will play in the tournament by sharing the dressing room with them.”
The former Pakistan captain wants Indian cricketers to play in all leagues around the world.
“When you are playing in a league, you are also supporting the cricket of that country which is hosting the league. Indian players should therefore play in leagues other than the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“I am now here to play in [the] Afghanistan Premier League, which means I am supporting Afghanistan cricket. Business is different, obviously as a professional we are taking the money to play, still we have to support each other in cricket. The big names in cricket coming and sharing a dressing room with youngsters and sharing their experience means a lot for all youngsters,” he said.
Further justifying UAE’s growing status as ideal venue for shorter format leagues, Afridi said: “People from all sub-continent countries are working here. Most of them are labourers. They need some entertainment after long working hours. T20 is a good format for them as they can come and enjoy. It is good for cricket as well for the new talent to emerge.”
Thanking his fans for his popularity here over the years, he said: “I want to thank Allah. He gave me that strength. Only thing I do is I work hard, cricket is still my passion. I play for my fans and my [Afridi] foundation. Cricket is in my blood. I want to keep playing because my fans want to see me and I am what I am because of my fans.”
When asked how he still keeps fit, Afridi said: “I think after 35 you have to keep yourself very fit. Cricket is a different ball-game now. I do my training every single day and once I finish this interview, I am heading straight to the gym. It is important to keep fit because you are playing cricket professionally and team owners and league owners want you to perform.”