In wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the fourth edition of the Abu Dhabi T10 League, scheduled for 28 January-6 February 2021, will adopt stringent precautions, similar to the ones followed in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), said Shaji Ul Mulk, the league’s owner and chairman.
“Due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation, the crowd is variable. We’re not really sure about that yet. A bio-security bubble will be created and all the protocols which were followed in the IPL will be followed in T10 as well,” he told Firstpost in an exclusive interaction.
However, Shaji added that the lack of spectators in the stands would have no impact on the league’s popularity as the upcoming season will have a much wider reach (broadcasting coverage) and more internationally acclaimed players in the mix. T10’s fourth edition will be headlined by the likes of Chris Morris, Shahid Afridi, Mohammed Amir, Luke Wright and Elwin Lewis.
“All the eight teams (Maratha Arabians, Bangla Tigers, Deccan Gladiators, Qalandars, Delhi Bulls, Northern Warriors, Team Abu Dhabi and Pune Devils) which competed last year have confirmed their availability. But the upcoming season will have more star players since cricket is not as busy as it used to be.
“Apart from that, this year, we’re much stronger in terms of broadcast – we will have Sky Sports (UK), Super Sports (South Africa), Sony (India) and Ten Sports (Pakistan) and a few more channels covering the league.”
The promotion of budding homegrown talents is one of the positive outcomes of the T10 league as they benefit significantly from rubbing shoulders with the top international cricketers.
Elaborating on the same, Shaji said: “We have a robust policy of promoting UAE cricketers. We have got three UAE players in the squad per team. Just before the league, we also had a talent hunt for the T10 format where we found talented cricketers. So T10 as a format and TSM as an organisation, we’re both investing in development of cricket in the UAE.
“Even last year, we had some top-class performances from UAE cricketers. At least, one UAE player has to play in the team. In that sense, there is tremendous exposure for our budding cricketers.”
As an initiator of the format, Shaji is delighted with its popularity and highlighted viewership figures from the previous three years to back his claim.
“We had a strong organic growth. When the league was launched (in 2017), the television and OTT viewership was about 37 million. Next year, it jumped three times to 97 million, and last year, it went up to 119 million. So that shows the rising popularity of the league.”
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