UAE captain Rohan Mustafa expressed his anguish following the cancellation of the UAE T20x tournament that was expected to take cricket in the country to the next level.
The Emirates Cricket Board on Thursday announced that that failure to complete the sale of franchise rights within time meant it wasn’t possible to go ahead with the league that was supposed to start next month. Also, a potential cap on player participation in franchise tournaments from the ICC affected the commercial prospects of the tournament.
The UAE T20x was to be a great opportunity for UAE players to rub shoulders with international superstars like Kumar Sangakkara, Shahid Afridi, Eoin Morgan, David Miller and Andre Russell.
However, that won’t happen now and Mustafa expressed his disappointment at a lost opportunity for UAE cricket.
“Quite disappointing. There were some big names coming to play that tournament. It was a great effort to grow cricket in the UAE,” Mustafa told Sport360.
“The guys are disappointed. These kind of leagues give financial support as well. Every player wanted it. But you can’t do anything.”
Three UAE players were expected in each squad of the five-franchise tournament, which would have been a golden chance to not only gain precious exposure but also open the door to potential contracts in other tournaments where the international stars played. Mustafa lamented the missed opportunity to impress the star names who ply their trade in T20 leagues around the globe.
“When Brendon McCullum was asked ‘what is the difference between you (international stars) and associates’, he simply said ‘opportunity’. No one knows about us, how we play. But we are not too different from international players. Yes, we can’t reach the level of legends. If we perform in front of them, it opens doors for us.
“If a star player is my captain and I do well, it’s a great opportunity as he can recommend me in another league as well. That was a great opportunity for us to play with those who play in almost all leagues in the world.”
Next up for Mustafa is the upcoming T10 league – that starts on November 21 – in which he will turn out for Team Rajputs. But more importantly for him, the UAE team will travel to Pakistan to participate in the Emerging Teams Asia Cup starting December 6.
Mustafa said his focus is on the UAE team and performing well for the country, not worrying too much about franchise cricket.
“In December, we will be travelling to Pakistan for ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup. If we qualify for semi-finals, we will be travelling from Pakistan to Sri Lanka for semis and final.
“T10 is starting next week. But we are concentrating on our national commitment. Country comes first, whether there is league cricket or not. I will be thinking more about Emerging Teams Asia Cup rather than T10 as I am the leader and I have to perform,” Mustafa said.
“We didn’t perform well in the Asia Cup qualifiers, that was sad for us. We will be facing teams like Hong Kong and our aim now is to do well there.”
Mustafa, and fellow UAE cricketer Mohammad Naveed, will then turn out in the Everest T20 League in Nepal – running from December 8 to 22 – having just completed a stint in the Pokhara Premier League in the same country.
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