UAE skipper Rohan Mustafa Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), trying to cash in on the Twenty20 fervour, has decided to launch their own new elite international T20 cricket league.

The tournament that will be held under the auspices of International Cricket Council (ICC), will be unveiled formally later this month in the UAE.

The name of tournament will be announced late this month and will make its debut in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah with five new franchise teams vying for the inaugural title. In all, 22 matches will be played over 24 days in December-January.

The five franchises will comprise a squad of 16 featuring six current international star players, two emerging players from ICC full member countries, three players from ICC Associate Member nations, two Junior Players and three UAE cricketers.

ECB is of the view that no other T20 competition has been established with these developmental goals at their core, and no other event will showcase such a wide array of international talent.

“Our firm aim is for this event to take the sport to all corners of the UAE and to develop cricket at a grassroots level initially in — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah. This will not be just another T20 tournament, it will be a true international festival of sport and the hottest cricket ticket in the UAE,” said David East, CEO of the ECB.

The event has already received the support of six cricket boards of ICC Full Member nations — England & Wales, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, New Zealand and the West Indies — and organisers are looking forward to receiving the support of the ICC Associate Member countries.

“We are confident that this new event will play a big role in growing the game, inspiring, promoting and developing the sport in order to add to the already world-leading UAE cricketing and sporting landscape,” said Zayed Abbas, ECB Board Member and Official Spokesperson.

As per ECB, this new event will be the latest UAE national sporting asset and is aiming to leave a lasting legacy for the game, health and fitness in the UAE and across the region.

Dr. Nasim Ashraf, Chairman of the T20 League Board of Directors, former Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and ECB Board Member, explains that the new competition has been conceived to be a unique platform for the development of the best young cricket talent from around the world.

“Our intention is to build a new event that is here to stay, and one that occupies a niche position in the international cricket calendar. We are not looking to compete with other T20 leagues, we are looking to develop an international festival of cricket that exists first and foremost for the benefit of the players, and with a very specific goal of helping to develop new talent from around the world and grow the game in keeping with global best practices,” said Dr. Nasim.

“Our players will be at the heart of the action, entertaining and playing the game to the limit, looking to make a name for themselves and a mark on the world of T20. The diversity of players that will compete in this new event will represent the great diversity of the UAE — players of all nationalities love playing and staying in the UAE, with a lifestyle beyond compare. This is a chance for them to come to a winter sports super hub and play 7-star cricket in a competition that will be world-class in its design, organisation, management, quality, sound practices, compliance with rules and regulations, profile, innovation and fan experience,” he added.

The new event is being built to ensure that it is a commercially sustainable platform of high strategic value towards the promotion of cricket in the UAE and internationally for sponsors and franchise-owners alike. The franchise model has been developed using best practises and learning from the organisers’ experience in sports franchising and international business and is set to offer franchise owners long-term returns and a unique platform to engage with consumers and businesses alike. It is a model and format that has seen the competition been granted a 10-year sanctioning from the world governing body for cricket, the ICC.

“No other T20 competition has been established with such an international outlook, offering fans the chance to watch players from so many nations, from the international stars of the game to the best up and coming young talent. These are goals and values that are really important to the ECB and so we are pleased to offer our full support,” said Zayed.