UAE’s Cashed-Up T20 League Hopes To Inspire Smaller Cricket Countries To Be Financially Stable – Forbes

The new T20 league in the UAE will start in January. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty … [+] Images)
Emirates Cricket boss Mubashshir Usmani has made an impassioned defense of the new UAE-based T20 league, saying cricket should “not be monopolized” and that the cashed-up six-team competition could serve as a template for Associate countries often shunned by Full Members.
He also dismissed concern over teams potentially boasting just two locals, believing the number of overseas players in a side is “arbitrary”.
The unveiling of the International League T20 (ILT20), set to start in January and run for around a month, has created a stir with top players offered huge sums of $450,000 per season, which is about par with South Africa’s new T20 league but substantially more than Australia and Bangladesh’s concurrent established competitions.
The influx of T20 leagues is causing headaches for an already saturated international cricket calendar with the next Future Tours Programme still delayed despite being earmarked for release shortly after the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Annual Conference, which ended on July 29.
There have been a slew of think pieces over the primacy of international cricket in the wake of ILT20, which is privately owned but sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board and received backing from heavy hitters including several Indian Premier League franchises.
“We strongly believe in representing your country, in whatever format, at an elite level which is the pinnacle of our game,” Usmani told me. “But… it is time Associates found innovative, sustainable ways to guaranteeing their own reliable revenue streams.”
Emirates cricket chiefs have been left frustrated over the years of its Full Membership ambitions being stymied by strict ICC criteria and reluctance from Full Members to play UAE in bilaterals.
The UAE is making an impact across junior and senior levels. (Photo by Ashley Allen-ICC/ICC via … [+] Getty Images)
The UAE apparently tick the boxes for coveted Full Membership, which leads to substantially more funding and an important spot on the ICC’s all-powerful board, apart from the UAE’s men registering at least one win over a Full Member in a World Cup or World Cup Qualifying event and four wins against Full Members in bilateral matches over an eight-year period.
UAE men’s are currently 14th in the ODI rankings and 12th in T20I.
“Associate Members, who at best receive 1/8th of the (ICC) funding that a Full Member receives, need to continually manage their cash-flow and revenue streams,” said Usmani, a rising administrator globally who surprisingly missed out on a spot on the ICC board during the recent Associate Director election at the Annual Conference in Birmingham.
“Lack of funds effects and drives every aspect of business; play this tournament and gain valuable points to remain ICC-compliant, miss that tournament and lose an opportunity to develop talent.
“It’s a delicate balancing act, and, to be very transparent, the Associates are the future of worldwide cricket.
“Our game is not to be monopolized. UAE cricket has the opportunity to set an example for those that need to become self-sustainable.”
The emergence of the UAE league has put pressure on the maligned Big Bash League (BBL), which is undergoing a revamp, forcing Cricket Australia to reportedly negotiate a big offer to star batter David Warner, who had been targeted by ILT20.
While long-time BBL star Chris Lynn could have his participation in the UAE league blocked by Australia’s governing body sparking debate over the legality of no objection certificates.
Chris Lynn is one of the BBL’s best ever players. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
The issue was part of much debate at the recent Annual Conference with a focus on teams in the ILT20 potentially fielding nine overseas players compared to the commonly accepted four foreigners per side rule in established T20 franchise leagues.
Squads will be comprised of 18 players made up of 12 internationals, two Associate players and four from the UAE.
“The number of overseas players in a league is arbitrary,” said Usmani, who is on the ICC’s Chief Executives’ Committee. “You will hear differing views on what is the right number of overseas players in a league.
“Some would say that the current practice in other leagues of four overseas players in playing XI is at the cost of opportunity of four local talented players.
“We think that as an upcoming league a guaranteed position for four UAE players in the official squad and two UAE players in playing XI, as a start is just the right number in ILT20.
“We also believe that like Full Members, the Associates should have freedom to self-manage and create their domestic tournaments.”
There are also concerns over ensuring money from private investment, leading to some labelling the nascent leagues as ‘IPL satellites’, genuinely flows back into grassroots and pathway programs.
Usmani said there were “very clear goals” attached to the competition’s sanctioning, which was approved by the ICC.
“ILT20 as a first step has recently agreed to fund the first year central contracts for UAE women team and also pick the cost of a full time women development officer,” said Usmani as Emirates Cricket eyes a T20 professional women’s league, potentially in the next few years, which few countries have invested in.
“Development programs committed to be run by the franchisees annually will have significant impact on the UAE cricket and will save funds that would otherwise have to be spent by ECB.”
Mubashshir Usmani is making a splash as Emirates Cricket General-Secretary
Having felt perhaps somewhat neglected in the past, despite being based just metres from the ICC’s headquarters in Dubai, Emirates Cricket has gained the attention of Full Members and the entire cricket world with its well-heeled upstart expected to expand in the coming years.
“Our team is very focused on this inaugural year and making it a resounding success – for all involved,” Usmani said.
“We are providing both our UAE players and fellow Associate players with the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best and allow those that play the chance to take those learning experiences into their own international matches.
“This model is far from a threat and is maintaining the life of the game for ourselves and other Associates.”

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