Kolkata: Come September, the spotlight of the cricket world will be trained on the UAE as it will be hosting back-to-back showpiece cricket events - the remaining part of the Indian Premier League 2021 and the T20 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Oman as well. The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), which has over the years, established it’s credentials as hosts of major international events as well as the franchise leagues will be one again in the forefront - and Mubashir Usmani - their General Secretary struck a confident note about pulling the events seamlessly.
‘‘We are, of course, looking forward to hosting both the IPL once again and the ICC WCT20 in the UAE. We have proven experience in hosting and delivering high-profile sporting events. Aside from a team with an exceptionally strong cricket administration pedigree, we have a UAE-wide team of highly experienced events and logistics companies and individuals, therefore we are confident in facing and working confidently through any challenges that may arise,’’ said Usmani, who was hands-on when the full edition of IPL 2020 was shifted to the UAE at a short notice from India due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is still one and-a-half months to go for the IPL, which gets underway on September 19, but speculation is rife if a certain percentage of crowd in the stadia will be allowed.
Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive interview, Usmani struck a note of caution. ‘‘As hosts, ECB will work closely with the authorities to seek approval on what protocols need to be followed - this includes fan attendance, we will then discuss it with the BCCI as well as the ICC to assess their spectator requirements. We want our expat and Emirati sports loving fans in the UAE to be able to watch the action from the stands,’’ he said.
It was a testimony to the UAE’s growing stature as an Associate cricket country (they will be the first Associate nation to host a T20 World Cup) that last month, the International Cricket Council (ICC) nominated Usmani, along with two other members from Botswana and Canada to be a part of their Chief Executives’ Committee.
Endorsing the choice of Usmani as a candidate to represent the UAE in the ICC, Khalid Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman of ECB and Member of Asia Cricket Council (ACC) Board of Directors, said; “Through the progressive vision of our chairman, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Emirates Cricket (Minister of Tolerance) continues to demonstrate to the world its capabilities as an effective and efficient cricket administrator and governing body of the sport.
“As we move the game forward and strive for full ICC membership, we remain cognizant of our role as a leading Associate member and the reputation we uphold. Mubashir has held the position of General Secretary for the past three years and has been an integral, informative voice and servant of Emirates Cricket as we continue our journey. Our Board congratulates Mubashshir on his appointment to the ICC’s Chief Executive Committee (Associate Member representative) and we look forward to his working alongside our cricket colleagues for the good of the game across all nations.”
Asked about new responsibility, Usmani said: ‘‘I am extremely honoured to be elected by my cricket peers to sit on the ICC’s Chief Executives’ Committee. Through this seat, my responsibility is to represent all Associate nations and, I am confident, through my role with the UAE and the experiences gained, our voice and opinion will be heard, considered and valued with respect.’’
As someone with his hands full, how does he plan to juggle the ICC position and the administrative role in the UAE? ‘‘It is a very exciting opportunity and one I fully embrace. The importance of being elected to this seat is of great importance to our game, and, alongside my Associate member colleagues, Sumod Damodar (Botswana) and Rashpal Bajwa (Canada), we recognise it carries a heavy responsibility to all associate nations.
‘‘It is our responsibility to ensure we provide valuable, sound input into the committee’s mandate to ‘Grow and Develop the Game Globally’. At the core, we want to see more opportunities for Associates to play against higher performing countries in the game’s short format – both men and women (as an immediate goal), as well as input and support for our respective grassroot and junior programmes as these players rise through their ranks toward country representation. We acknowledge we have work to do and this is the start,’’ Usmani signed off.