New cricket format proved a hit last year and is back in the UAE with two new teams confirmed and an extended schedule
T10 League remains unrivalled as organisers announce expansion plans ahead of second edition
Organisers of the T10 League say they “see no competitors” to their event in what promises to be a packed calendar for cricket in the UAE next winter.
The league will be expanded for its second season, with the addition of two new teams confirmed by Shaji Ul Mulk, the T10 chairman, and Salman Iqbal, its president, in Dubai on Wednesday.
It means eight teams will play 10 over matches over the course of 10 days – up from four days in the first season in December.
Karachians, a team representing the city in Pakistan, and Northern Warriors, an Indian franchise, are the expansion teams.
Team Sri Lanka will also be rebranded, becoming Rajasthani Heroes, and will draw players from all over the world, rather than just Sri Lanka.
Next season will be extremely busy for cricket in the Emirates, starting with the showpiece one-day international tournament, the Asia Cup, in September.
Pakistan’s national team are likely to host two bilateral series, while the new Afghanistan franchise Twenty20 league is also set to be played here.
The UAE is also believed to be the preferred destination for the Board of Control for Cricket in India if the Indian Premier League is forced to relocate next season.
Part of the 2014 IPL was played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi due to the general election. It is possible the same could happen in April 2019.
Despite the surfeit of cricket, Ul Mulk is confident his event will remain popular, having sold out Sharjah Cricket Stadium on two days last year, and coming close to doing the same on the other two.
“We see no competitors, really,” Ul Mulk said. “T10 was the only tournament that had all packed stadiums [last winter].”
When Ul Mulk first indicated there was a number of interested parties vying to own a new franchise earlier this year, he said other countries had shown an interest in the 10-over concept, notably England and West Indies.
Since then, England have announced controversial plans for a new league played in a convoluted 100-ball format. Ul Mulk said he remains in talks with other boards, though.
“Our vision is to see T10 become an integral part of domestic and international cricket all over the world,” Ul Mulk said. “We are discussing with various full member country boards to take T10 to all these countries.
“On a domestic front, Ajman Cricket Council has just concluded two T10 tournaments and feedback from the teams is very encouraging.”
Iqbal said he believes T10 has already “proven itself.”
“We faced challenges when we first launched as players were hesitant to sign on because of the last private cricket venture to be staged in UAE, the Masters Champions League,” Iqbal said.
“However, in just one year T10 has proven itself. If the interest continues to grow at this rate, we might even take cricket to the Olympics.”