The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) and promoter OPi Sports unveiled the much-anticipated name and logo of its new T20 franchise league – UAE T20x, providing fans with their first glimpse of the exciting competition set to be played across the UAE from December 19 – January 11.
A new UAE national sporting asset, UAE T20x promises a fan-centric experience and the most internationally-representative line-up of players and coaches seen in any white-ball league around the world. Five new franchise teams will compete for the inaugural league title with a 22-match schedule played over 24 days in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Uniquely, each of the 16-man squads will be comprised of:
This progressive team structure will provide an unmatched developmental opportunity for the best up-and-coming young players to play on the world-stage alongside icons of the game, something not afforded by any other international T20 competition. To date, the boards of seven ICC Test member nations have given their consent to their players taking part in the new league, including England & Wales, the West Indies, South Africa, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland, together with 12 ICC Associate Member nations.
Zayed Abbas, ECB Board Member and official spokesperson, explained: “The number one aim of UAE T20x is to offer a developmental platform for the best young cricketers from around the world, and of course the UAE, to showcase their talent alongside the icons of the game. We want this new league to play its part in helping to grow the game, so we are looking forward to announcing, over the coming weeks, some of the hottest names in cricket who will be part of UAE T20x and the inspiration for the up and coming talent who will be playing alongside them.”
UAE T20x has been carefully developed by the ECB with a clear long-term vision to be a commercially-sustainable, top-tier, festival of cricket that can help grow the sport throughout the UAE and beyond. As an ICC Associate Member, the ECB has put the growth and development of the sport at its heart, and a key aim of UAE T20x is to generate new income streams for UAE cricket over the coming years that can be reinvested directly into the grassroots of the game, into coaching, facilities and infrastructure. This new league, therefore, represents a critically-important venture for the growth of cricket in the UAE.
“As a guardian of the game, we are committed to growing the sport. The primary goal of UAE T20x is to create a lasting legacy that will touch future generations of cricket players and fans – and we are genuinely excited about doing this,” added Abbas.
The organisers of the new competition, OPi Sports, are aiming for the T20 league to be the most progressive and inclusive in the world. Hosted in one of the most desirable global destinations, the newly-announced UAE T20x reflects the UAE’s desire to push the realms of possibility, using its unique location as a hub for world-class sport to become a new centre of the cricketing world and to foster the development of the game. The ‘x’ in the name reflects the diversity and vibrancy of the people living in the UAE, and the intention to put on an unforgettable, innovative cricket experience that has the x-factor.
The new league aspires to lead the sport in the adoption of new methods and approaches, including innovation in the format of the competition, innovation as the leading showcase for emerging talent, innovation in the way in which digital and social media are integrated into the fan experience and innovation in the use of new technologies and cutting-edge broadcast production. The ambition over the next three years is for UAE T20x to be a global showcase for innovation and a unique festival of cricket.
Salman Sarwar Butt, CEO of UAE T20x, said: “Cricket is a game that crosses cultures and borders, drawing in fans from across the planet. With UAE T20x we will deliver excitement, innovation and world class entertainment in one of the most progressive countries on earth. No other T20 league provides a platform for up and coming talent to compete with – and learn from – so many iconic cricketers. We believe that UAE T20x will give the stars of the future an invaluable experience, which they will take with them as they continue to develop their domestic and international game after the tournament.”
The veteran’s knee injury had initially flared up in the last edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) but the rehabilitation has not gone as quickly as originally planned for the all-rounder.
Announcing his pullout in a tweet on Wednesday, Afridi expressed his disappointment in missing out on the T20 league.
Due to my knee rehab I’ll have to sadly miss out this year’s #BiggestPartyInSport with the @JAMTallawahs— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) August 8, 2018
I’ll be cheering for the team from home and I’m sure @simadwasim will fill up for me #CPL18 #DreamBIGwidTallawahs https://t.co/zJ6C8mI22A
The 38-year-old was slated to turn out for the Jamaica Tallawahs who play their first match of the 2018 CPL on August 10. The league is set to commence late on Wednesday with Trinbago Knight Riders taking on the St. Lucia Stars.
It was meant to be Afridi’s second stint in the CPL after he had turned out for St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the 2015 edition.
Afridi, who called time on his Pakistan career in 2016, had returned from his international retirement earlier this year for a one-off charity T20I between the ICC World XI and the West Indies at Lord’s in July before representing the Edmonton Royals in the inaugural Global T20 Canada.
Kohli was a lone hand in the tourists’ 31-run defeat at Edgbaston – where he made 200 runs, yet none of his team-mates could top 31 in either innings.
But he sees no reason to suspect India are collectively incapable of adapting to conditions which have in any case, despite a break in the heatwave this week, been more akin to Bangalore than Birmingham so far this summer.
Kohli does not suspect any technical issues against the moving ball.
“We should not judge so fast, and jump to conclusions,” he said. “As a team, we keep patience; we don’t judge so fast. We don’t see any pattern.”
Kohli is nonetheless calling on his team to exercise a little more caution at the start of their innings.
“As far as wickets falling in a heap is concerned, it is not about technique – it is more of a mental aspect,” he said.
“There must be a clear plan of how to face the first 20-30 balls, and more often than not that plan does not involve aggression. We need some composure.”
He wishes the youngster well, just not too well.
“It is going to be a big occasion for him,” said the world’s number-one Test batsman.
“I am happy for him – as a cricketer I understand how important it is. I will tell him to enjoy the occasion and not get too many runs.”
Both teams have retained the option of picking a second spinner on a pitch which may still start conspicuously green – depending whether it is cut again before start of play – but is thought to be baked dry underneath by months of un-English sunshine.
Kohli said: “It could be a tempting thought, two spinners are definitely in contention.
“The pitch looked very hard, the surface very dry. It has been very hot in London for the last couple of months.
“There is good grass cover, (but) that is required basically to keep the wicket together – otherwise it would be very difficult to hold it together.”