• How will the UAE T20 league shape up?

    It was recently announced that the UAE would be setting up their own T20 cricket league to bring the sport to the region following recent successes and growing interest, but with big competition close by with the likes of the IPL, so how can the currently unnamed UAE league shape up in comparison?

    It has the experience – The good news is that the UAE has some great experience in hosting the highest level of cricket already. Throughout 2021, the IPL will be hosted in Dubai following COVID complications in India and had previously been the home of cricket for Pakistan. This experience will certainly come in handy for ensuring not only that the league can run smoothly but to also ensure that support for the players and teams is well in place too which is essential when drawing the bigger talent across.

    Salary caps have already been approved – Talking of drawing bigger talent across, it has already been confirmed that the UAE T20 league will offer a competitive salary cap similar to the likes of the IPL in the hopes of bringing big names across, with many of the top cricket players having had experience playing in the region and the promise of a better salary than can be offered elsewhere. There are some challenges here, bringing players across from already established leagues to something brand new filled with uncertainty could be difficult, but this is certainly a good place to start.

    Building interest already exists – Along with the salary cap, it has already been confirmed that there’s a lot of interest already existing from Indian businessmen and celebrities through to existing IPL franchises. There had been previous ties to the Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders, and one other in the past which shows the biggest teams in the IPL have certainly shown interest before too.

    The same regulatory bodies – Governed by the ICC, the governance of the league will remain the same at umbrella level, with UAE specific bodies regulating at a more specific level. Under their jurisdiction falls core aspects such as player behaviour, rule changes and integrity – the latter of which is a hot topic given the fairly recent suspensions of Shafaq and Umark Akmal for corrupt betting activities centred around the sport. It’s an area that will be heavily policed, especially as the betting market in cricket is well renowned to peak when new events come to the fore.

    The peaks are linked to major international tournaments, as well as the introduction of domestic quick-fire T20 competitions. The game itself is renowned for active gambling within training camps – a recent study by the Professional Players Federation (PPF) has indicated that cricket was high on the list of dressing rooms interested in this type of activity, with the over-riding factor being sponsorship motivation and social inclusion. This applied particularly to South African culture, with the popularity of the types of casinos listed at Casino Online SA surging, as well as Betway’s recent sponsorship of the South African game.

    It is certainly an existing opportunity for cricket as a whole, by creating another big league with further opportunities, it may not only lead to more diversity within the teams that are stacking the biggest players in the world but also to attract new players to get involved too. The details of the league are currently a little spotty and its expected that more information will become available throughout the month as details finalise, and it will become clearer around which details have stuck around and which will be subject to bigger changes moving forward.

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