Ahead of the Indian Premier League's (IPL) forray into the region former England captain Michael Vaughan believes that the IPL is ‘ready-made’ for the UAE, a notion supported former Australia wicket-keeper batsman, Adam Gilchrist who added that the tournament is ‘reflective of this region’.
Exclusively talking to Sport360°at an event hosted by their broadcast employer OSN, Vaughan said: “I agree with what Waqar [Younis] said, if they get one more stadium here then they’d be set [to host global cricket regularly]. I actually think that the IPL is ready-made for this country.”
“It, as a tournament, is reflective of this region. That’s the way I see it,” Gilchrist chimed. “ I’ve actually spent more time in Dubai than Abu Dhabi but the IPL really is a microcosm of this region and it’s going to be perfect.
“It’s going to have supporters of all teams, all nationalities, all individuals within those franchises in the UAE and it’s fantastic that [the IPL] has been given the opportunity to come out [to the UAE],” added Gilchrist.
Combined with the country’s superb facilities and cricket’s fanbase in the UAE, Gilchrist also believes that the 20 IPL games being held in the region will only serve to improve the sport in the country.
“[The IPL] can only help [grow the game in the UAE]. It’s needed exposure to the game,” said Gilchrist. “I’m sure the ICC are trying to enter at grassroots level and are getting into schools as that’s the only way it’s going to turn around. You can’t wait for adults to decide they want to be professional cricketers, it’s going to have to be at that lower level [that foundations are laid].”
The former Ashes opponents explained that the UAE has the perfect platform to establish itself as a cricketing nation as long as the authorities can grow the game from its grassroots.
“One of the best ways to start learning [about cricket] is to see it. You see it through your TV screens and you see it played in the stadiums and that creates the system from there. Then you start creating leagues and clubs.
“It’s going to take time and you’re looking at a good number of years before it’s established but you have to start somewhere and you’ve got a decent starting point out here [in the UAE]. If you look at all the national cricket teams around the world that are trying to start out and grow, I’d rather take this kind of region with these facilities,” remarked Vaughan.
“I was going to say, the facilities speak for themselves,” agreed Gilchrist.
“The fact that so many county teams come out here for pre-season tours and what the MCC have committed to [hosting county championship curtain-raisers in the UAE] and now having an IPL coming through here it only gives them an opportunity to grow.”
The pair’s comments mirror those made by the ICC’s commercial general manager Campbell Jamieson, who told Sport360 last month that the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) needed to do more to promote the game within schools and encourage youngsters to pick up a bat and a ball.
Add the global exposure of an ICC U19 World Cup and the IPL being played in the UAE, to the country’s finest performances in its history that have culminated in qualification to their first World T20 and only the second ICC World Cup in its history and the sport should be ready to thrive in the UAE.
The domestic scene is still to grab the attention of its population however, and although it will take time to do so, as Vaughan notes, the ECB and ICC are in a perfect position to make it happen.
UAE cricket fans will soon have the chance to purchase tickets for this year’s IPL tournament, with online sales commencing on Thursday, 3 April 2014.
Some 20 matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah as a host of the world’s best players descend on the UAE for the hugely entertaining limited overs tournament.
The opening match sees reigning champions Mumbai Indians face 2012 winners Kolkata Knight Riders at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on April 16.
Tickets will also be available at selected Lulu Hypermarkets in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah from Sunday, 6 April 2014, whilst stadium box-office sales will start on Thursday, 10 April 2014.
The minimum price for the Abu Dhabi matches is AED20 for a single match and AED30 for double-headers.
In Dubai, a ticket for one match will start at AED30 and AED50 for double-headers, while in Sharjah, tickets will start at UED30 for a single match and will be priced at AED40 for the double-headers.
For a full list of fixtures simply click here
With just two weeks until the start of the Pepsi IPL 2014, excitement levels are starting to build as the first leg of the tournament arrives in the United Arab Emirates.
Some 20 matches will be played in the UAE leg of the tournament which begins on April 16 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, with the reigning champions Mumbai Indians taking on Kolkata Knight Riders – the 2012 winners.
With matches also being played in Dubai and Sharjah, cricket fans in the UAE will have a superb opportunity to see some of the finest players in the world battle it out in the exciting short format of the game.
“I have spent a lot of time over the years in this wonderful country and it is great to see the excitement and buzz being generated prior to a tournament of this magnitude, here in the UAE,” said Sunil Gavaskar, Interim President of the BCCI-IPL.
Ranjib Biswal, Chairman of the IPL Governing Council, is equally as excited to share the event with the cricketing fraternity and people of the UAE.
“I want to thank the UAE government, the Emirates Cricket Board, the administrations of Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, as well as the three sports councils, for their support and commitment to host the IPL," said Biswal.
"The 20 matches to be played in the UAE will feature top cricketers from all over the world. I am sure that the opportunity to witness their heroes in action will prompt them to flock to the stadiums."
The Emirates Cricket Board has a proven track record in terms of hosting significant cricket series and tournaments, with the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2014 a huge success just a matter of months ago.
“The venues in the UAE have hosted some extraordinary international matches recently, and I am certain that everyone can expect some unforgettable cricket, in the UAE leg of the Pepsi IPL 2014,” declared Omar Al Askari, Director of the Emirates Cricket Board.
With preparations in full swing across all three regions, the online sale of tickets will commence tomorrow (Thursday, 3 April 2014) on www.iplt20.com and www.ticketmaster.ae. They will also be available at selected Lulu Hypermarkets in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, from Sunday, 6 April 2014, whilst stadium box-office sales will start on Thursday, 10 April 2014.
The tickets will be available in different denominations. The minimum price for the Abu Dhabi matches is AED20 for a single match, and AED30 for double-headers.
In Dubai, a ticket for one match will start at AED30, and AED50 for double-headers. In Sharjah, tickets will start at UED30 for a single match, and AED40 for the double-headers.
“We are excited to see the best players in the world play on our shores and in front of the UAE fans. The UAE is home to sports-loving people, it has wonderful cricket facilities, and the sport is run by a body – the Emirates Cricket Board – that loves the game, and will work tirelessly with the BCCI to deliver a memorable experience in the first leg of the Pepsi IPL 2014,” added ECB chief executive David East.
While Ahmed Al Sharif, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council hoped that hosting such a tournament would continue to attract people to the UAE.
Sharif said: "We are sure that the UAE leg of the Pepsi IPL 2014 will demonstrate the UAE's ability to host major events and welcome visitors to our lands."