Brace yourself, UAE. This December there will be a cricket and Bollywood extravaganza that is likely to be the ultimate in ‘cricketainment’ – that is, cricket meeting entertainment. If you thought IPL and T20 was the most dynamic change brought to the gentlemen’s game, think again. A group of UAE businessmen have floated TCL – the T10 Cricket League which will see a number of teams, led by superstars of the game, battle it out in perhaps the shortest version of cricket. It is fast, explosive and fun with each match not lasting more than 90 minutes. We spoke to Shaji Ul Mulk, President of TCL, founder of Mulk Holding, Member of the Emirates Cricket Board and most importantly, an ardent lover of the sport to give us the lowdown:
Shaji Ul Mulk
It all began with a simple idea, reflecting on the South Asian passion for cricket. Most of the popular international sports, be it soccer or hockey does not exceed 90 minutes. Cricket too has evolved from five-day tests to one day internationals and now to T20. T10 was the natural progression. The promoters soon started co-ordinating with official cricket boards, agencies etc, only to realise this was an idea that was waiting to happen. The cricket boards, especially of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh supported the concept by sending their registered teams while Emirates Cricket Board acted as the sanctioning body.
What is T10?
As mentioned above, it will be the shortest version of the game. Each team gets to play 10 overs so rest assured, it will be raining sixes and fours! There will be two-three matches each day. For the average cricket fan, it’s the thrill of watching at least three games at the cost of one ticket!
When and where will it be held?
It will be held from December 21-December 24 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium
The teams and a few of their ambassadors are as follows:
· Maratha Arabians (owned by Parvez Khan and supported by actor Salman Khan) – Virendra Sehwag and Kumar Sangakkara
· Gujarat Tigers (owned by the Danube Group along with Nilesh Bhatnagar - Chris Gayle
· Keralite Kings (owned by Hussein Ali and Shafi ul Mulk)
· Pakhtoons (Owned by Habib Khan) – Shahid Afridi
· Punjabi Legends (Owned by Inzamam Ul Haq and Rahil Siddiqui)
· Colombo Lankans (the team sent by the Sri Lankan Cricket Board)
· Bengal Tigers (team sent by Bangladesh Cricket Board)
Role of Brand Ambassadors
Hotshot cricketers Chris Gayle, Virendra Sehwag, Shahid Afridi and Kumara Sangakkara among others have been signed on as brand ambassadors. They will not only be promoting the league and captaining their teams.
The Bollywood Connect
Salman Khan who has a huge finger in the cricket pie with the Celebrity Cricket League, is lending his might to this one as well. Then there will be actresses who will be signed on as brand ambassadors for individual teams. For instance, Zarine Khan will be the ambassador for Pakhtoons team. Other stars are still being decided. Aside from stars, the entire event will be high on glamour with performances, acrobatics etc constantly entertaining the crowds.
But It’s Also Serious Cricket
The difference between T10 and other cricket leagues is that along with a dose of glamour, it’s also about serious cricket. There are professional players who will play for each team and vie for the trophy! The league costs $51 million! The idea is to make it an annual feature for the next 10 years. The organisers also plan to do it in multiple locations and talks are on with boards in the US, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh among others.