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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

UAE fans lucky to have option of watching T10 League in Sharjah or Pakistan-New Zealand Test in Dubai

Supporters might argue about their preferred format, but they must also be grateful about having the choice between what to watch at the moment

T10 is so rapid, it does not even feel like the highlights. It happens, and if you miss it, watch a Gif or two, that should just about cover it. Chris Whiteoak / The National
T10 is so rapid, it does not even feel like the highlights. It happens, and if you miss it, watch a Gif or two, that should just about cover it. Chris Whiteoak / The National

There was a time when this was the height of excitement in cricket. The first morning of a Test. Top-order batsmen enduring a torrid examination against a new ball.

Get through it, and a big score might be on the cards. The fielding team, realising chances would be few and fleeting, were keyed in.

The audience should have been gripped. And maybe the 77 people who had been in their seats when Trent Boult sent down the first ball of the second Test at Dubai International Stadium were enthralled by the action.

But it felt different. As though this was the morning after the night before, when something significant had happened.

Just like when Twenty20 cricket had its advent 15 years ago in England, it felt as though the matrix had shifted again.

As is the way of the long-format cricket, Pakistan watchfully charted their way through the opening overs of the Dubai Test.

Boult challenged outside and inside edges. Colin de Grandhomme was more testing still, beating Mohammed Hafeez’s defences, and then catching the outside edge of both his bat, and then that of his opening partner, Imam-ul-Haq.

If the Pakistan-New Zealand Test in Dubai runs for its scheduled five-day duration, eight T10 League matches will have been played, with a ninth just about to start. AFP
If the Pakistan-New Zealand Test in Dubai runs for its scheduled five-day duration, eight T10 League matches will have been played, with a ninth just about to start. AFP

By the time De Grandhomme had completed the 10th over of the match, Pakistan were on 25-2, both openers having fallen to the strapping all-rounder, each caught by Tom Latham at second slip.

Which was nice for the aficionados of such things. But, 14 hours earlier and 48 kilometres down the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, a team had scored 183 runs in the same amount of time.

When a side can score 183 in 10 overs, all this fiddling about in monochrome seems to lose some of its weight.

In their first session, Pakistan scored at considerably less per over (2) than Northern Warriors had managed per ball (3.05) the previous evening in Sharjah, in their thrashing of Punjabi Legends in the T10 League.

In the first two days of play in T10 League 2.0, there had been two hat-tricks – one that then became four in four balls – and a batsman had hit 74 in 16 balls to set up a win with six overs to spare.

That was before it even got to the business of Nicholas Pooran and Co hitting 19 sixes and 183 runs, in a 99-run win in a, ahem, 10-over match.

T10 is so rapid, it does not even feel like the highlights. It happens, and if you miss it, watch a Gif or two, that should just about cover it. “Non-stop cricketainment,” as the advertising slogan on the television goes.

Some would have it that the revolution is happening in Sharjah. And that, not for the first time at the Dubai International Stadium, it feels as though Test cricket is waiting to die.

Others would say the T10 stuff is too gaudy, disposable and meaningless to palate. And a day at the Test is in many ways the antidote to the carnage of T10. After the assault on bowlers, senses, and general cricket decency in Sharjah, some Test-match stodge is gratefully received.

If this Test match runs for its scheduled five-day duration, eight T10 League matches will have been played, with a ninth just about to start. For Danny Morrison and Waqar Younis, the Ten Sports broadcasters who are commentating on both, the Test portion must feel like breaking up boot camp with time at a spa.

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The story of a Test match is gently unfolding, layering the narrative as it goes. Generally, its achievements are lasting, too.

Which, after all, is likely to stay longer in the memory: Pooran’s 25-ball 77 in the quick slog in Sharjah, or debutant Ajaz Patel bowling New Zealand to one of Test cricket’s smallest ever winnings margins – four runs – in Abu Dhabi last week?

The answer does not really matter. Cricket fans can get their kicks wherever the prefer, and supporters in the UAE are lucky to have so many options available to them.

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Read more:

Bowlers strike back as Tambe and Yamin have a ball on second day

Jason Roy interview: On playing in T10 League and England career

Team-by-team guide ahead of Season 2 of Sharjah tournament