Abu Dhabi to become new home of UAE T10 Cricket League

Shahid 'Boom Boom' Afridi has been one of the stars of the T10 League so far. (Getty Images)
Updated 19 March 2019

Abu Dhabi to become new home of UAE T10 Cricket League

  • UAE League to move base from Sharjah to UAE capital.
  • Shajji Ul-Mulk, the league’s chairman, hopes move takes the newest form of the game to the next level.

LONDON: Abu Dhabi is set to become the new home of T10 cricket for the next five years, starting from this October.
The UAE-based league has been based in Sharjah for its first two editions, attracting big crowds and big-name players. England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, West Indies all-time great Chris Gayle and Pakistan icon Shahid Afridi have all taken part in the newest — and shortest — form of the game over the past two years at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
That old venue is famous for holding the record number of ODIs, but the UAE capital has moved in and run out its neighbor to become T10’s new home.
For Shajji Ul-Mulk, the league’s chairman, the move could help take the format to the next level.
“We are very pleased to be moving to Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, as we take one of the world’s most exciting sporting cities by storm,” Ul-Mulk said.
“The third season of T10 cricket will give over 100,000 fans the chance to see some of the biggest names in cricket battle it out on the pitch over 90 fast minutes of action.”
Abu Dhabi, while not having the rich cricketing history of its UAE northern neighbor, has hosted some Test matches, ODIs and T20s, but it is hoped that hosting the T10 league will further establish it in the minds of cricket fans as a global venue.
Matt Boucher, the acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Cricket, said: “This move to Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium represents a big next step in the growth of Abu Dhabi’s cricketing ecosystem, by giving fans access to a combined sports and entertainment offering through hosting all forms of the game.
“Whether it’s international Test matches or the now shortest form of cricket the game has to offer, we are continuing to be the home of the sport in the UAE.”
The T10 format — in which both sides have 10 overs to score as many runs as possible — was introduced in the UAE two years ago. In its short lifespan so far, it has already made a name for itself and has designs on going global.
Ul-Mulk has grand plans to export cricket’s latest white-ball phenomenon far and wide.
“(Cricket) boards are coming to us and it’s all about how we fit in commercially. We will probably have one more T10 in 2019; that’s our ambition,” he said last November.
“We are talking to a few boards, but it depends on how it goes. One thing is very clear: We only want to work with boards.”
Ul-Mulk did not reveal which boards he is in direct talks with, but did hint at the format having a possible future not only in traditional cricket heartlands such as England and South Africa, but also the US.
“The US market is great, the UK market is excellent for cricket, and South Africa, too, for that matter,” he said.
“With T10 the way it is, with 90 minutes (of) cricket, (it) actually opens up new markets that cricket doesn’t have now.
“For us, the US is one of those big markets where we feel that we can reconnect cricket there. Cricket can have a strong place in the US, which it doesn’t have at the moment.”

Formula One in brave new world as Verstappen seeks repeat Austria triumph

Updated 03 July 2020

Formula One in brave new world as Verstappen seeks repeat Austria triumph

  • Teams are cut to a maximum of 80 staff, all in protective equipment

SPIELBERG, South Africa: Max Verstappen will seek a hat trick of home wins for Red Bull and an early lead in the drivers championship at this weekend’s delayed and somewhat surreal season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

For everyone involved, the race will be an unprecedented experience — the calendar is unknown beyond the first eight races in Europe in 10 weeks, all to be run behind closed doors and severe limitations introduced with a new paddock protocol forbidding meetings.

As racing returns, the COVID-19 virus remains in circulation, which requires all participants to be tested before travel to Austria on private chartered jets, ongoing tests, the separation of teams and car crews into “bubbles” and controlled hotels.

Teams are cut to a maximum of 80 staff, all in protective equipment, there will be no sponsors, no guests and only a limited number of accredited broadcast and written news media.

Journalists, limited to a dozen instead of 300 or more, have to pass a test within 72 hours in advance of arrival and will not be allowed to leave the media center.

All interviews and news conferences will take place by video.

The teams will be kept isolated, based in tents with awnings instead of their usual grand motorhomes — and there is expected to be a synchronized taking the knee by the drivers on the grid, to support Black Lives Matter, ahead of Sunday’s race.

Afterwards, there will be no podium ceremony.

When the race begins, it will end the longest gap between races in the sport since 1962, but with two successive races in Austria and then one in Hungary, the pressure will be immediate and intense.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: “There’s been a long drought. We all do this because we love it. We’ve missed it, so we can’t wait to start.”

“It’s going to be exciting and intense. The races come thick and fast.”

Dutch driver Verstappen, who bullied his way past Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc to triumph in front of a mass of his “orange army” of fans last year, says he is unfazed by high expectations or the absence of spectators at the Red Bull Ring, a remote and compact circuit in the Styrian Alps.

“I am not thinking about a hat trick,” he said.

“The most important thing for me is to have a competitive car and to perform at my best.

“I never consider myself as a favorite because, actually, when you look at the track, it’s not even our best one, but last year it was very warm and we were good at keeping the engine cool.

“So I don’t expect an easy win. I think Mercedes will be very strong again and they are the ones to beat.”

Verstappen, who has kept a low profile during the lockdown, delivered three wins and eight podiums last year as Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth title with Mercedes, who this year seek an unprecedented seventh constructors’ and drivers’ double in succession.

Verstappen and teammate Alex Albon will have an upgraded Honda engine package, developed since the coronavirus lockdown ended, to boost them at the contest in the Styrian Alps where the 800-meter altitude can affect engine performance.

Mercedes will also have an updated package while Ferrari, struggling to match them in pre-season testing, announced Tuesday that they are updating their cars for the third race in Hungary.

Hamilton this year bids for a record-equalling seventh drivers title as he campaigns passionately for greater diversity, and against racism, in the sport.

“We are preparing the best way we can for what is going to be the most difficult season that F1 and all of us have experienced,” he said in a video from the team, which — at his prompting — is running black livery this year to support equality and diversity.