The Emirates Cricket Board (UAE) is reportedly planning to lure leading Indian cricket players to play in their Twenty20 tournament in the Emirates. The governing body for the sport in the UAE announced that they were “well into the final planning phase” to stage an international T20 cricket league, stated an “an Emirates Cricket Board source.
The announcement marks a renewal of an idea that had already been cancelled once. Many of the sport’s leading players, including AB de Villiers, Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell, had been recruited ahead of a competition that was due to be known as the “UAE T20x” in December 2018.
A date had been set for a draft that was set to feature Steve Smith, the former Australia captain, as well as players from all over the world – not just the established elite countries. However, it was cancelled a month before it was due to start when only two of five planned franchises were purchased.
It has been suggested that competition met its death because of conflict with the Pakistan Cricket Board, who were apprehensive about the distraction it would cause to the Pakistan Super League.
In addition to that, the event was struggling to compete within a packed UAE calendar last season that also included the Asia Cup, the Abu Dhabi T20 festival, the T10 League, and the PSL.
The Emirates Cricket Board is understood to be certain the new competition is worthwhile, though, especially if it does include the leading lights from the Indian game. India’s stars, like Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, are routinely blocked from playing in franchise leagues other than their own Indian Premier League.
It is hoped, though, that either leading India players, or possibly even IPL franchises, could feature in the new competition, as a result of strengthened ties between the ECB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
The fact the Asia Cup was hosted in the UAE last September on behalf of the BCCI was an indicator of that improved relationship. And, while the global calendar for international T20 events is often said to be close to saturation point, next season in the UAE will at least be less crowded, with Asia Cup not being played, and PSL scheduled to return to Pakistan in its entirety.
“This league will be ECB’s official flagship tournament,” said Khalid Al Zarooni, the vice chairman of the ECB and president of Dubai Sports City.
“A long-term goal and vision of the board has been to own and to deliver an international-standard T20 league, one we have remained exceptionally committed to.
“We have had, and continue to have, very positive and constructive discussions with various Full Member and Associate Nations, the ICC, as well as various stakeholders where their collective response has been incredibly encouraging.”