Fast food, fast cars, high-speed internet and a quick movie. Indeed this is the day and age where time is at a premium; it's a generation that struggles with low attention span and hence, doesn't like to wait. The best entertainment is that which comes in compressed, power-packed packages. As expected, cricket could not have been immune from the winds of change. While the charm and beauty of matches extending over five days, or even for 100 overs, is valued by the purists, they just get a bit tedious for the average viewer, hard-pressed for time. And to be relevant, you have to evolve with the trends of the time.
Cricket metamorphosised itself accordingly, emerging an a T20 avatar, and tasted enormous popularity subsequently. Now, however, it is poised for another makeover, with a new franchise-based tournament in the UAE looking to cut even T20 cricket in half. Yes, you heard it right. T10 is going to be the newest fad. It is going to be a bonsai version of cricket.
The iconic Sharjah stadium, which has hosted 228 ODIs so far – a world record – will witness some of the top cricketers, past and present, showcasing their wares in 90 action-packed minutes from 14-17 December. It is going to be the first-ever international T10 league, the draft for which was held on Sunday at Dubai. The tournament will feature six teams – Maratha Arabians, Pakhtoons, Bengal Tigers, Kerala Kings, Punjabi Legends and Colombo Lions. It will also include players like Virender Sehwag, Mohammed Amir, Alex Hales, Keiron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Hassan Ali, Darren Sammy among others. Sixty players were picked up by five teams at the draft on Sunday, with Colombo Lions already having been announced a day earlier.
Amir was the first to be taken in category A as the Maratha Arabians snapped him up. In the next two rounds, the Arabians picked up Imad Wasim and England’s Alex Hales. The Arabians would have some star power in their coaching staff as well, with legendary Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram being roped in as the mentor and head coach.
The Pakhtoons' first choice was Pakistan batsman Fakhar Zaman, followed by Tamim Iqbal of Bangladesh and West Indian Dwayne Smith.
The Bengal Tigers took in Sunil Narine and backed that up with Bangladesh left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman and West Indies' double World T20-winning captain, Sammy.
The Kerala Kings bought Keiron Pollard and the bowling duo of Sohail Tanvir and Shakib Al Hasan.
Finally, the Punjabi Legends picked up Pakistan all-rounder Hassan Ali and then Umar Akmal and Chris Jordan.
“This is the first time we have had a draft in the Emirates so a very special occasion indeed," said Shaji Ul Mulk, the chairman of the T10 Cricket League and the man behind the event.
He struck a light note when he said people had been asking him not just have a toss and decide the game if the overs were being reduced so drastically. "The answer to that is simple," said Shaji with a smile, "I got the idea watching a soccer game and I thought to myself, 90 minutes are ideal for the (people) to have a great time, as with other sport why not cricket of intense energy.
"The demographic dictated a concentration on players in the Emirates and nations that are represented in the region," he added.
He emphasised 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.
A massive amount of money — $40000 for the top 12 players and $30,000 each for the next – was spent. Now, whether the cricket will be taken more seriously than let's say the Hong Kong Super Sixes or any other invitational tournament, is something which we have to see.