Kolkata: Team Abu Dhabi, the ‘home team’ in the upcoming Abu Dhabi T10 League, will be led by former England allrounder Luke Wright while Rohan Mustafa - a former UAE captain himself - will be their vice-captain in the campaign. The 10-day event, boasting of some of the biggest names of franchise cricket, will be held from January 28 to February 6 at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The buzz among the teams is palpable and in the word of Shane Anderson, General Manager of the franchise, it’s been a ‘‘very, very busy period’’ over the last few days to coordinate the players’ arrival from different parts of the world. ‘‘A huge credit for this should go to the UAE government, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi Cricket. We have moved into quarantine for three days and the team should get down to practice from January 26,’’ Anderson told Gulf News during a chat from the team hotel.
He (Dougie Brown) has coached the UAE team long enough to know what works here and what doesn’t. In (Kumar) Sangakkara, whom we will have as our mentor, one of the finest cricket brains. He was very excited when we first spoke to him
Carrying the Brand Abu Dhabi on their shoulders, a lot of expectations ride on the franchise and the team management has tried to string together an outfit rich in experience where Chris Gayle, the ‘Universe Boss’ and their icon player, will be walking out to open the innings. There are a number of other exciting players like Joel Clarke of Nottinghamshire, who spent the first part of his winter representing Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash, though he has not played since December 22.
‘‘Most of the players have reported and once the trio who are currently involved with the Afghanistan-Ireland series, join us on Tuesday (January 26), we will be full strength and raring to go,’’ said Anderson.
A big plus for the team, according to the team official, is the presence of Dougie Brown, the Scotsman who has a wealth of local experience. ‘‘He has coached the UAE team long enough to know what works here and what doesn’t. In (Kumar) Sangakkara, whom we will have as our mentor, one of the finest cricket brains. He was very excited when we first spoke to him,’’ Anderson said.
Looking at the bigger picture about Abu Dhabi T10 as a product, Anderson felt that the exponential growth in terms of broadcast partners show that the league is on the right path. ‘‘In just four years, the foundation is set right. We have managed to get people excited about the format - it’s a legitimate one and has got the sanction of ICC and some of the biggest players on board,’’ he said.
Any chances of the crowd coming in? ‘‘It’s very unlikely that crowds will be allowed in the first part of the tournament. However, the TV audience will determine the success of the tournament - much like the IPL has done,’’ he added.