T10 is cricket’s newest format, and is one that the cricketing world is still trying to understand. The Abu Dhabi T10 league sees eight teams filled with some of the world’s premier cricketing talent take the field, with Associate players from UAE, Nepal, Oman and Canada all participating.
Emerging Cricket recently had the opportunity to talk to UAE international and Maratha Arabians player Alishan Sharafu about the league and format. Sharafu, who has recently turned 18, has been on a path of rapid development. He is part of an exciting cohort of up and coming talent from the UAE. The batting all-rounder was first introduced to international cricket when he joined the UAE’s U-19 squad at 15. During his time with the U-19 team, Sharafu participated at the 2020 edition of the U-19 Cricket World Cup, where he averaged 72.50 with the bat. Alongside his exploits at the U-19 level, Sharafu has already made T20I and ODI debuts for the national side, the latter during the UAE’s recent home series against Ireland.
The Abu Dhabi T10 League will be many people’s first introduction to the format, though Sharafu has had to learn on the fly.
‘T10 is a dynamic format. You can literally win or lose games within a few balls.’
‘I feel you have to put in a lot more effort and energy into playing this format as you have no room to be slack. A bad ball here and there can cost you the game, but it gives you a chance to go out there and express yourself with a positive mindset.’
‘I think it’s a great concept as it’s full of thrilling, entertaining cricket action and attracts a lot of viewers over the 90 minutes. We’ve seen how it has grown over the years and it is still growing. I believe with time more and more big names will want to be involved,’ he continues.
Over the course of the 2021 edition of the competition, Alishan Sharafu will be sharing the dressing room with some of the sports biggest names including Pakistan internationals Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik and England’s Laurie Evans who has played franchise cricket around the world. According to Sharafu, ‘it is almost surreal (to be a part of the Arabians squad), and I am really excited to be playing alongside and against some of the biggest names in cricket.’
The UAE international is looking at the league as a learning experience and sharing the dressing room with his teammates ‘is something I am looking forward to. It will be a great opportunity to interact and observe how these superstars go about their game. I’ll definitely be looking for tips and to incorporate a few of these into my game as well.’
In addition to the players that Sharafu will be taking the field with, he will be under the tutelage of current Zimbabwe national team coach and former Indian international Lalchand Rajput. Sharafu explained that he is really looking forward to working with Rajput and the rest of the Arabians coaching team.
‘The more feedback you get the better it is for me to work on my game and rectify errors, while also working on strengths they acknowledge. Also, it gives me the opportunity to work on my mental approach towards any format of the game – not just T10.’
Being able to gain constructive feedback is a crucial part of any player’s development. With the UAE looking to further establish themselves in world cricket after several impressive recent performances, the tournament and the ability to work with world-class coaches and players provides a massive opportunity for talent from the UAE. In total there are 30 players UAE-eligible players participating in the tournament.
‘There is a lot of talent competing in the Abu Dhabi T10 this year, and it will be a great opportunity for myself as well as every other UAE player to showcase their skills and be recognised for other leagues all over the world.
‘There is so much experience to gain from other international players during this tournament as well that can only benefit our development as players.’
Along with the players gaining increased exposure and increased opportunities to learn, the UAE’s facilities have recently been used to host several high calibre events like the IPL and the recent ODI home series against Ireland.
‘I think interest in cricket is growing across the UAE. The IPL is always exciting to watch and exciting action is what sparks people’s interest. With the Ireland ODI series and then the Abu Dhabi T10 tournaments played shortly after the IPL there is always a live sports match to watch. It is fantastic to see such high-profile players play these tournaments here and it is exciting to know these are being played where you live.’
It is hoped that players such as Alishan Sharafu benefit from these opportunities and take UAE to the next level.
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