Some of cricket’s greatest former international players including Brian Lara, Adam Gilchrist and Wasim Akram are due to return to competitive action in the new Masters Champions League. The T20 tournament will be held annually across three stadiums in the United Arab Emirates.
The MCL will feature a franchise format. However, unlike the IPL or Big Bash, teams will not be based on geographic location, and instead will simply include the best possible players a franchise owner can put together from the qualifying player base.
The tournament will be made up of six teams in its first year, with a total of 90 players taking part – 15 members per squad. The players must all be retired from international cricket.
The MCL has been approved for an initial 10 year period by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), while the organiser and rights owner of the tournament, GM Sports, is also closely following the established guidelines set out by game’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The inaugural MCL matches are due to take place over two weeks in early February, 2016. They will be played in the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium and Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which have all previously hosted major cricket tournaments, including the IPL, as well as first class and international Test matches.
— Adam Gilchrist (@gilly381) June 3, 2015
Speaking at the launch in Dubai, Zafar Shah, MCL Chairman said, “The UAE is an ideal location for this unique tournament: it’s easy to access from anywhere in the world; it has a large fan base already living in the country; and it has three fantastic international stadiums to host the matches. We hope that by holding the tournament in the UAE it might also inspire a new generation of Emiratis to take up the great game, leaving a lasting legacy in the country.”
Brian Lara, one of the former players to sign up for the MCL, added. “I am thrilled and honoured to be taking part in what promises to be an exceptional display of competitive cricket. I hope people get behind the MCL and support some of the heroes of the game as they look to extend their careers a little longer.”
“The MCL is a tremendous force for good, which is partly what attracted me to it. The organisers have ensured giving back is a major theme, alongside inspiring cricket in the Middle East and in terms of leaving a lasting legacy.”
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