By Azeez Anasudhin
Come December 21, the iconic Sharjah stadium in the United Arab Emirates will reverberate to the thwack of leather on willow. But with a difference.
Thanks to the initiative from the UAE-based business tycoon and sports lover Shaji Ul Mulk, the venue will host the first ever 10 overs cricket league.
The ten-over per team matches will be spread over 90 minutes (45 minutes each side). The T10 cricket league has attracted scores of famous marquee names including Eoin Morgan, Virender Sehwag, Misbah-ul-Haq and Inzamam-ul-Haq. Brian Lara will coach the Kerala Kings led by Morgan. The final of the league matches will be played on December 24.
The draft for players to the five teams took place on board a luxury yacht berthed at the Dubai Marina on Sunday. As many as 60 players were chosen by the five teams taking part in these proceedings, with the 6th team Sri Lanka Cricket having already been announced a day prior.
"The idea was really to bring cricket into the same time realm as most other sports and ninety minutes or so is the norm. The idea was kicked around and no one could deny there was a certain excitement to the visual aspects of watching the barrage of runs which would accrue or the happily reckless fall of wickets." Mulk, chairman of the T10 Cricket League, told this correspondent in Dubai.
Sharjah's cricket stadium is a popular place for one-dayers. According to the General Manager of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Mazhar Khan, the new dimension to the short-form cricket has the potential to become a runaway hit.
"We are seeing the excitement building already and we will see full houses not just out of curiosity but because the lure of the big names is also there. This is instant cricket and the fans will have a great time," Khan said.
"The demographic dictated a concentration on players in the Emirates and nations that are represented in the region," Mulk said.
He underscored the fact that the rules were according to the ICC mandate and though there was a large element of fun in the quick version, the games would be played competitively and professionally.
"The desire to be the first winners of a T10 tournament would be a historical achievement and will motivate the players to doing their best on the field," he said.
President of the League Salman Iqbalk, compared T10 to the F1 motor races saying he was confident the format would be here to stay.
(Azeez Anasudhin, Associate Editor of Asian Lite International published from London was in Dubai to launch an edition of the magazine. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)