Dubai: Abu Dhabi could be at the forefront of a T10 revolution with two top cricketers predicting that success of the format may open the doors for inclusion of the sport at the Olympic Games in a not-too-distant future. The fourth edition of the Abu Dhabi T10 League will be held from January 28-February 6 next year.
England’s Sam Billings and West Indies’ Carlos Brathwaite were part of a media round-table as part of the build-up to the event on Tuesday and both agreed that cricket will ultimately evolve to perhaps make its entry as an Olympic sport in the future.
Cricket had been a sport at the modern Summer Games just once during the 1900 edition. Great Britain went on to win the gold medal, and now with shorter forms being played, there is a push towards having the sport at the Olympics yet again.
“In T10 cricket, you have to go from ball one as you really don’t have a choice. This format will have an impact for sure, even though we may feel that it hasn’t quite happened as yet,” Billings said.
“It will change how we measure batting and how each player impacts the game. Maybe everyone will want to bat in the top three. But it is really interesting to see how cricket will change from that point of view,” he added.
Barbados-born Brathwaite, a former captain of the West Indies T20I team, detailed how T10 cricket has changed the sport in a short span of time. “If you think are always in a pressure situation and in the heat of the battle in T20 cricket, then in T10 cricket, it is just mayhem,” the 32-year-old said.
“From the start, I loved it. T10 has a real festival feel and the cricket is of a really high quality and that’s what sets it apart. Besides this, in T10 it is easier to interact with other people. If we say that T20 has taken the game to a different level, then we’ve got to look at some areas around the world and in countries that haven’t been touched as yet. The basics come a lot more into play and you need to get it right always. You are always and more under pressure. Everything else is just a stage show. It is only 10 overs and this can be our best chance to get into the Olympics,” the West Indies player added.
Brathwaite, who has played for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL in the past, admitted that his experience there has helped him as it puts players on the shopping window. “It’s cricket at the end of the day, and as a professional you are always in the shop window and you need to be seen on the basis of your performances. In T10 cricket, it is all about handling the pressure from the first delivery. So when someone gets a 45 or 50 or 60 runs, this would have been under tremendous pressure,” he reflected.
Billings, who opted out of the ongoing IPL 2020 to concentrate on county cricket with Kent CC, was thrilled to usher in the evolution with an eye on the future. “Imagine cricket being at the Olympic Games. That would be a gamechanger. Imagine China getting into cricket and for sure, T10 can be a vehicle for it to grow even further,” the 29-year-old Billings offered.
Billings made his IPL debut for Delhi Daredevils in 2016 and played for them in 2017 too. He then spent the following two seasons at Chennai Super Kings before he was released by the franchise last November.
“What we have to consider here are the several advantages T10 cricket has. For one, the time needed to play a T10 game is less, and the resources and infra structure needed are also minimal. This can only help cricket be at the forefront to develop skills and take the game to another level,” the Englishman added.
Billings had been in fine form earlier this summer for England’s ODI team, averaging 78.75 across six matches, with his maiden international century coming up in the first ODI against Australia. He has played 22 matches in the IPL, hitting 334 runs at an average of 17.57 and strike rate of 133.60. He played 10 games in CSK’s title-winning campaign in 2018, but averaged just 13.50 with the bat.