UAE set to become centre of the cricketing universe with jam-packed schedule

Alex Broun 3/09/2018
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Luke Ronchi batting for the Punjabi Legends in last year's T10 League.

The UAE is set to become the centre of the cricket universe over the next six months as not one, not two, not three, not four but five different T20 tournaments, a T10 tournament, the Asia Cup and the Australia-Pakistan series take over cricket pitches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

It’s certainly exciting for local cricket lovers who will get a chance to see some of the world’s best up-close-and-personal, but is all this cricket in danger of killing the white-ball goose?

Here’s a rundown of all the tournaments so you can start working out your cricket watching schedule.

Asia Cup

Format: ODIs

Teams: 6 (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Qualifier)

Dates: September 15 – 28

Big names: Rohit Sharma, Rashid Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed, MS Dhoni, Angelo Mathews, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dinesh Chandimal (but not Virat Kohli*)

Venues: Dubai, Abu Dhabi

This will be the 14th edition of the Asia Cup and the third time the tournament will be played in the UAE, after the 1984 and 1995 editions. India are the defending champions.

Pakistan latest series on UAE soil

Format: Tests, T20s, ODIs

Teams: 3 (Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand)

Dates: September 29 – December 7

Big names: Sarfraz Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman, Kane Williamson, Mitchell Marsh, Trent Boult, Ross Taylor, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon

Venues: Dubai, Sharjah, Pakistan

Pakistan start the season with next month’s Asia Cup in the UAE from September 15 and they will then host Australia for two Tests and three T20I clashes between October 7-28.

This will be Australia’s first Test series since the infamous ball-tampering row in Cape Town in March. Following the matches against the Baggy Green, Pakistan will host New Zealand for three T20Is, three ODIs and three Tests, taking place from October 31-December 7. Pakistan have been forced to play their matches in the UAE since terrorists attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009.

Afghanistan Premier League (APL)

Format: 20 overs per side

Teams: 5 (Balkh, Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia)

Dates: October 5 to 23

Big names: Rashid Khan, Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Brendon McCullum

Venue: Sharjah

Run by the Afghanistan Cricket Board the tournament will feature up to 40 overseas players. Five teams have been selected to compete, named after regions of Afghanistan. In its first year, the ICC only approved plans for the tournament in August 2018 but there are big hopes for this new competition which is expected to be the second most watched in India after the IPL.

Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy

Format: 20 overs per side

Teams: 6 (Boost Defenders, Afghanistan; Hobart Hurricanes, Australia; Lahore Qalandars, Pakistan; Titans, South Africa; Yorkshire Vikings, England; UAE team)

Dates: October 2018

Big names: George Bailey, Tymal Mills, Chris Lynn, Fakhar Zaman, Faf du Plessis, Lungi Ngidi, Kane Williamson, Gary Ballance, Albie Morkel, Chris Gayle

Venue: Abu Dhabi

This new franchise cricket tournament features five of the best teams from leagues around the world, including the Big Bash League, the Pakistan Super League and the T20 Blast, brought together for an international contest to be played exclusively in Abu Dhabi.

T10 League

Format: 10 overs per side

Teams: 8 (Kerala Kings, Punjabi Legends, Northern Warriors, Maratha Arabians, Pakhtoon Team, Bengal Tigers, Karachians, Rajputs)

Dates: November 23 – TBC

Big names: Shane Watson, Eoin Morgan, Kieron Pollard, Rashid Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Sunil Narine, Darren Sammy, Brendon McCullum

Venue: Sharjah

Now in its second year, T10 is the first-ever internationally approved 10-over league. The duration of a match is 90 minutes and the tournament is played over four days, with a round-robin league followed by semi-finals and the final. Lots of big names have signed up ready to go hard or go home.

UAE T20X

Format: 20 overs per side

Teams: 5 (TBC)

Dates: December 19, 2019 to January 21, 2019

Big names: Andre Russell, David Miller, Eoin Morgan, AB de Villiers (non-playing ambassador)

Venues: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah

The UAE’s very own ambitious, big-money T20 league. Set to provide a welcome boost to cricket in the region as playing squads have to consist of four local emerging and junior players, three ICC Associate Member players and three UAE national team players – as well as a host of international stars.

England captain Eoin Morgan is the most well-known cricketer signed up to date.

Pakistan Super League (PSL)

Format: 20 overs per side

Teams: 6 (Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalanders, Multan Sultans, Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta Gladiators)

Dates: January 2019

Big names: Misbah-ul-Haq, Imad Wasim, Brendon McCullum, Shoaib Malik, Darren Sammy, Sarfraz Ahmed, AB de Villiers (rumour)

Venues: Dubai, Sharjah, Pakistan

A franchise T20 league established by the Pakistan Cricket Board in 2015. In 2017 it featured six teams, expanding from the previous five. In 2019 eight or more games will be held in Pakistan, with Lahore, Karachi, and another yet to be decided venue to host. The remaining games will be held in the UAE as in previous seasons.

Cricket players of Islamabad United celebrate their victory at the end of the Pakistan Super League final match between Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United at the National Cricket Stadium in Karachi on March 25, 2018.  / AFP PHOTO / RIZWAN TABASSUM        (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Islamabad United celebrate victory in Karachi earlier this year.

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All Blacks to take on Black Caps in charity T20 match

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All Blacks skipper Kieran Read will lead the side in the charity T20 match.

The Black Caps and All Blacks will go head-to-head early next year in a T20 match to be held at Christchurch, all for charity.

Former New Zealand skippers Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Grant Elliot and Luke Ronchi are some of the names who will turn out for the Black Caps in the charity match.

The All Blacks, meanwhile, will be captained by Kieran Read with the likes of Richie McCaw, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Israel Dagg appearing for the match.

The money raised by the charity match will go to the benevolent funds of the rugby and cricket associations of New Zealand.

Read, who is currently the skipper of the All Blacks, has played age-group cricket for Northern Districts previously and has admitted to being slightly nervous for the match.

“I’m going to be a bit nervous, to be honest,” Read told Stuff.co.nz.

McCullum and Fleming will turn out for the Blackcaps.

McCullum and Fleming will turn out for the Black Caps.

“You lose your hand-eye co-ordination pretty quickly in this game. I’ll have to get out and hit a few balls to get my eye back in.”

Stephen Fleming will lead the professional cricketers in the game and he is expecting a tough fight from the All Blacks.

“I thought if we had the opportunity with a brand as big as the All Blacks, it would pique my interest,” Fleming had told the Herald on Sunday.

“We’re putting our reputations on the line here. We know just how good the likes of Kieran and his rugby mates are at cricket. They’re exceptional athletes and many of them could have been international cricketers had they chosen another path. So we’re on high alert, that’s for sure.”

The charity T20 match is slated to be held in the early part of 2019.

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T10 Cricket League to get under way in UAE with two new teams added for 2018

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The Kerala Kings, featuring the UAE's Rohan Mustafa, won the inaugural T10 League.

Season two of the T10 Cricket League – the world’s first 10-over cricket league sanctioned by the International Cricket Council – will get under way in the UAE later this year with the addition of two new teams taking the total number of participants to eight for 2018.

The team draw took place earlier this week, with the Karachians and Northern Warriors the two newest sides to join the competition.

They will play alongside last year’s inaugural T10 League champions the Kerala Kings, as well as runners-up the Punjabi Legends and Maratha Arabians, Bengal Tigers, Rajputs and Pakhtoons.

The teams have been drawn in to two groups to fight it out in the second season which will take place from November 23 to December 2 – UAE National Day – at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The tournament will take place amid the backdrop of recent recognition by the ICC, the global governing body of cricket, that makes it the world’s first 10-over format league.

Season one of the T10 Cricket League was a runaway success, drawing large crowds for games at Sharjah Cricket Stadium and watched by fans across the GCC, South Asia and even parts of Africa.

The draw took place earlier this week.

The draw took place earlier this week.

The league was launched by T10 Sports Management to popularise the game of cricket in its shortest format, with two teams batting it out in just 10 overs – or just 60 balls – as exciting games conclude within two hours and thrill the crowds.

“The T10 Cricket League is gaining ground with the formal recognition of the International Cricket Council and the interest shown by the stakeholders that encouraged us to add two new teams to the league,” Nawab Shaji Ul Mulk, chairman of the T10 Cricket League and T10 Sports Management, said.

“The team draw is a testimony to the growing popularity of not only the T10 Cricket League but also the game of cricket, which can now be played in less than two hours.

“This year’s T10 Cricket League will help expand and popularise the game of cricket further. We see this as a growing movement and I urge all to join this and help take the game further.”

The team draw will be followed by a player’s draw which takes place in a few weeks’ time and will see the world’s top cricketers being selected by the eight teams – from a pool of cricketing legends.

England’s limited overs captain Eoin Morgan led the Kings to victory in season one, with aggressive West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard also in the side.

They defeated a Legends side led by skipper Shoaib Malik, New Zealand batsman Luke Ronchi and England bowler Liam Plunkett.

Salman Iqbal, president of the T10 Cricket League, said: “Cricket is being re-invented in the UAE and the T10 Cricket League is at the forefront of this journey.

“We are getting a large crowd joining us in this great journey where we hope to break new grounds with many more surprises to come.”

TEAMS

GROUP A             GROUP B

Kerala Kings          Punjabi Legends

Karachians            Bengal Tigers

Pakhtoon               Maratha Arabians

Rajputs                  Northern Warriors

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