A new franchise T20 league for UAE has been sanctioned by the Emirati Cricket Board (ECB) today, with the competition planned for either December 2021 or January 2022.
ECB Chairman, His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, signed off on a league agreement alongside Khalid Al Zarooni, Dubai Sports City President, Emirates Cricket Board Vice Chairman, and Board Member of the Asian Cricket Council.
The prospective UAE T20 league aims to follow franchise-based tournaments found around the cricketing world, attracting star foreign players while developing domestic talent.
“We are delighted with the launch of our own T20 League, one we believe will enhance the growth and popularity of cricket being played in the UAE,” said ECB Board Member Dr. Tayeb Kamali at the announcement.
“We also envisage that UAE-based players will continue to flourish through such opportunities as they continue to make their mark on the international stage.”
A similar league framework had been implemented in the Abu Dhabi T10 League, approved by the ECB but owned by T Ten Sports Management, a group company of conglomerate Mulk Holdings. A number of UAE national team members and eligible players impressed in the ten-day tournament inundated with global talent, and Al Zarooni believes a national T20 league only strengthens the pool of domestic players.
“We see this League as another premier addition to our growing tournament calendar. Emirates Cricket, and the UAE, has a proven history of identifying and embracing initiatives that underpin the success of the game, as well as encourage and develop home-grown talent,” Al Zarooni said.
UAE’s last attempt at a T20 league, UAE T20X in 2018, collapsed just a month before the scheduled tournament opener, after three of the five franchises failed to be sold. As time ran out on prospective deals, the ECB and OPi, tournament promoters, mutually agreed to cease operations with insufficient time left to promote and deliver an event. AB de Villiers was named as the ambassador of the tournament, with Kumar Sangakkara and Eoin Morgan also signed on. David Warner and Steve Smith, then-suspended by Cricket Australia, were also contacted to feature.
The newly sanctioned competition’s plan for a December or January time slot means it would likely compete with T20 leagues in Australia or Pakistan, with player availability also affected by several international tours, most notably the Ashes across the 2021/22 Australian summer.
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