The Ninety-90 Bash, a brand new international franchise cricket league, will be launched with fanfare in the UAE next year with the historical venue of Sharjah scheduled to host the event.
The league has been sanctioned by Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance & Co-existence and the Chairman of the Emirates Cricket Board as the announcement was made at a formal signing ceremony in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Sheikh Nahayan was present at the signing ceremony attended by ECB vice chairman Khalid Zarooni and the trio of promoters of the league: Abdul Rehman Bukhatir of the Bukhatir Group, Salman Iqbal of the ARY Group, Khalaf Bukhatir, Imran Chaudhry of Cinergie Group of companies and Aref Al Awani, general secretary Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
The agreement signed between Sharjah-based Century Events and Sports FZC and Emirates Cricket Board will see the launch of an unique, exciting 90-ball per innings annual cricket league at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium – which holds a Guinness Book record of hosting highest number of One-day Internationals.
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The Ninety-90 Bash, a working title for now, is the brainchild of three regional entrepreneurs; Abdul Rahman Bukhatir (chairman of the Bukhatir Group), Salman Iqbal (founder and president of ARY Digital Network and owner of the Pakistan Super League’s Karachi Kings team) and Imran Chaudhry (managing director of the Cinergie Group of companies).
Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, chairman of the Bukhatir Group and the person credited with bringing international cricket to the desert in the mid Eighties, said he is looking forward to leading a new era for cricket here. “I have been a part of cricket’s journey here in the United Arab Emirates from the very beginning, and it is my endeavour to continue to give cricket a home here in the Emirates, while finding ways in which to grow the game and keep it healthy. Bukhatir added: “This new exciting format could be instrumental in creating a brand new fan base for the sport, not just in the UAE, but across the globe.”
Iqbal said: “The sport has evolved over the years and the time has come for cricket to take another leap of faith. We believe we have something brand new to offer and the entire team expects the tournament to be a grand success.” Chaudhry of Cinergie Group of companies said: “The proposed Ninety-90 format will be shorter than Twenty20 cricket, with the aim of making every contest sharp, edgy and action-packed, while retaining the importance of cricket skills at the core of its success.”
Zarooni, vice chairman of the Emirates cricket board, said he was looking forward to the new tournament. “ We are very proud to sign this deal. And look forward to an annual tournament that is entertaining,” added Zarooni, who is also the President of Dubai Sports City. Preparations for the Ninety-90 Bash, according to cricket circles in the UAE, are already in full swing. Several well known global business houses and cricketing icons, players are ready to jump onto the bandwagon to make the league a marquee event.