The Dubai International Stadium has held many IPL matches Image Credit: Courtesy: Dubai Sports City

Dubai: The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) is still to officially hear on whether it will play host to this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), but a top ECB official told Gulf News the governing body for the sport in the UAE are “on our toes” and have pledged “full support to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) if they consider hosting the IPL in the UAE”.

Speaking at news conference to announce its newly created D10 League — D suggesting domestic — Mubasher Usmani, the ECB’s General Secretary, said it is eagerly awaiting official communication from the BCCI, which founded the tournament in 2008, to grant this year’s hosting rights to the UAE.

The coronavirus pandemic has already put a number of top sporting events across the world on hold and has cast serious doubts over IPL 2020. India is among the worst of the COVID-19-hit nations and it might be a while before the situation is brought under control on the subcontinent.

But since travel restrictions within Australia have threatened the postponement of the T20 World Cup, which was due to be held in the country from October 18 to November 15, a window emerged for the BCCI to stage its prime franchise-based tournament overseas.

Indian news outlets claim the UAE is expected to be shown the proverbial green light after government clearances in India and the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) announcement of the postponement of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

And while that happens, the ECB is doing its bit to bolster its status as a prime candidate by hosting a domestic tournament that will be broadcast online and furthermore target audiences in India as well.

To convince the BCCI, the ECB strategically announced its inaugural D10 League at a press meet at the ICC Academy in Sports City on Sunday afternoon.

The D10 League is “owned” by the ECB according Usmani, who told Gulf News that it is the first tournament of its kind to be fully organised by the ECB. The ECB and commercial partners ITW Consulting will broadcast the event and also use online channels to get the action across to overseas viewers.

To get the action across to the subcontinent, a partnership has been forged with Fancode who have a major online presence in India and a reported subscriber base of nearly 80 million. That would make the action here readily available for Indian audiences, particularly fans of the franchise-based IPL.

The ECB signalled its interest in hosting the tournament in the UAE via a letter in April, but are yet to receive an official nod from the Indian board.

Usmani said: “Right now it’s all in the initial stage and we haven’t received anything. When we get any kind of official approach from the BCCI there will be some kind of formal plan in place to follow the protocols of the UAE Government and each of the councils will be approached to take the necessary permission.

“We haven’t received any official communication from the BCCI; we are still awaiting it. It’s all at the early stage right now to comment. We are on our toes and once we get it we will be following up with all the government protocols required.

“We extend our full support to the BCCI if they consider hosting the IPL in the UAE. Even if the IPL does happen according to the dates being put forward from September to November there is still time on that.”

Usmani added: “Considering the number of COVID-19 cases in the UAE are going down and the situation is becoming more relaxed, if the BCCI comes forward we are hopeful that we will be one of the safest destinations in the world. It is up to the BCCI to tell us what they want.

“It’s subject to approval and permission from the government (regarding spectators). If BCCI chooses UAE as the venue for the IPL, we will work with them and provide them all the support.”

Speaking of the D10 League, which runs from July 24 to August 7, Usmani said the competition was conceived as a way of tapping into the domestic talent pool and discovering players for the future.

“This is only for our domestic players and we wanted to create a pathway for our domestic players to get them recognised. It is a structure created by the ECB and owned by ECB as a domestic development programme,” Usmani added.

“Apart from our councils hosting tournaments this is the first time the ECB will be hosting a tournament on the domestic level with our recognised commercial partners ITW who have been involved in cricket for a long time.

“We are trying to make it an inclusive step for Emiratis as well and we are hoping this step will ensure more involvement of UAE citizens.

“The ECB is the organiser of this tournament. Most of the time we have been the sanctioning body for tournaments, but this is the first instance where we are owning the rights of the whole tournament working in partnership with ITW.”