x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 October 2017

Afridi and Morgan to star in world's first T10 cricket league with ambitions to go global

Sharjah will stage inaugural edition, with future seasons likely to be held in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh

Shahid Afridi, second from left, and Eoin Morgan, right, among stars to commit to the T10 Cricket League. Antonie Robertson / The National
Shahid Afridi, second from left, and Eoin Morgan, right, among stars to commit to the T10 Cricket League. Antonie Robertson / The National

Teams

Punjabi Legends Owners: Inzamam-ul-Haq and Intizar-ul-Haq; Key player: Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakhtoons Owners: Habib Khan and Tajuddin Khan; Key player: Shahid Afridi

Maratha Arabians Owners: Sohail Khan, Ali Tumbi, Parvez Khan; Key player: Virender Sehwag

Bangla Tigers Owners: Shirajuddin Alam, Yasin Choudhary, Neelesh Bhatnager, Anis and Rizwan Sajan; Key player: TBC

Colombo Lions Owners: Sri Lanka Cricket; Key player: TBC

Kerala Kings Owners: Hussain Adam Ali and Shafi Ul Mulk; Key player: Eoin Morgan

Venue Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Format 10 overs per side, matches last for 90 minutes

Timeline October 25: Around 120 players to be entered into a draft, to be held in Dubai; December 21: Matches start; December 24: Finals

Talks are already under way about staging 10-over matches in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, according to the creator of the T10 Cricket League (TCL).

Shahid Afridi, Eoin Morgan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Inzamam-ul-Haq were all present as the new league was officially announced at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai on Tuesday night.

The first six-team, T10 league will take place at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in December.

Two of the franchises, Colombo Lions and Bangla Tigers, will be co-managed by officials from the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh cricket boards respectively.

Inzamam, the former batting great who is Pakistan’s chief selector, is a co-owner of the Punjabi Legends, franchise.

Shaji Ul Mulk, the TCL chairman and competition founder, hopes the new initiative, with matches being completed inside 90 minutes, will be a success similar to that of T20 cricket.

The UAE-based businessman also foresees a time when the format will be played at international level.

“We are talking to Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh about having T10 cricket there,” Shaji said.

“The first year is going to be critical. If the game is executed correctly and picked up the way it should be, it could be adopted at regional level, national, and then international level.”

Afridi said he is “very excited” to play in such a brief format. “When [Pakhtoons franchise owner Habib Khan] came to me tell me about this, I said ‘Please, let me play in this format’,” Afridi said.

Message from Maratha Arabians co-owner Sohail Khan

Misbah, who only recently retired from the game, is happy to have the chance to be involved again.

“Whoever came up with this idea did a wonderful job,” Misbah said. “It is a new concept, and for players like me, it is good for us with the kind of age we are – only 10 overs cricket.

“There is no need to go there and think a lot, and I think something new like this is good for the cricket fan.”

The UAE seems a neat fit to trial the new format, given the emirates’ affinity with limited-overs cricket.

Sharjah has staged more one-day internationals than any other ground, while Dubai holds a similar record in the T20 format.

The organisers are hopeful that the teams will strike an immediate chord with the areas and countries - Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Peshawar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – they represent.

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Jawad Ghulam Rasool, the chief executive of the TCL, believes the tournament “will be something the target audience from South Asia will really relate to”.

David East, chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board, believes the TCL will benefit the game in UAE.

“We are forever looking for concepts to help promote the game in the country,” East said.

“When this tournament concept came to us, it was a perfect opportunity for us to maximise our goals.

“When Shaji told me about this, I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a fantastic idea.”

The competition has been in the planning for six months, after Ul Mulk approached UAE cricket and Sharjah administrators, as well as raised the idea with the broadcaster ARY.

“Since the advent of Twenty20 cricket, I always felt that there could be something else that our sport can offer the world,” Ul Mulk said.

“It was then that I sat down to discuss with my team. We came up with the thought that cricket needs to match the best sporting action in the world. Most of these sports last no more than 90 minutes.

“We need to evolve with the times, and nothing should signify this better than giving a product to the fans that they can relate with. So we are here after months of planning to finally unveil to the world our dream.”