Ahmed Raza believes the Emirates Cricket Board’s (ECB) new franchise T20 league is the ‘best thing ever’ to happen for UAE cricket that will not only help the senior national members but also benefit the younger generation.
The ECB last week unveiled plans to launch their own five-team tournament that will be played over 22 days in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah in December and January.
With the cricketing bodies of England & Wales, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, New Zealand and the West Indies showing their support, there will be a number of international and upcoming stars in each franchise.
The 16-man squad will feature six international players, two emerging cricketers from full member countries, three from Associate nations, two juniors and three UAE cricketers.
The news is by far the biggest in terms of ECB-run tournaments and UAE spinner Raza insists the announcement is a significant moment for UAE cricket.
“It’s the best thing ever,” he said. “Our facilities are used by the whole world and their cricketing organisations are arranging their own T20 leagues. This ECB tournament is great news and this is something that we now own.
“The segregation is so good because there will be emerging players who’ll be there, you’ll have Under-19 cricketers there as well. You’ll have local and other players from six full member nations and I think it’s the best thing which has happened for UAE cricket.”
Raza, who made his UAE debut 12 years ago as a 17-year-old, will be turning 30 this year in October and insists the unveiling of the tournament has come at the right time.
“I’m very happy because for us it has come at the right time as there are some players who are 30 or will be hitting that age this year in the national team,” he said.
“Looking at the players who are younger than us right now, then maybe three or four years down the line they will be playing their own T20 tournament. We didn’t have that as a kid but these guys will have it when they get there.
“We are experienced now and it’s the right time for UAE youngsters. There’s so much opportunity to play with developing players in the game.”
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