The inaugural edition of the UAE T20 League, formally christened International League T20 [ILT20], will not take place this year as anticipated, but between January 6 and February 12 next year. That, however, raises the prospects of a jam-packed southern-hemisphere schedule and an intense battle for the world’s best T20 players.
As things stand, the Big Bash League, the Bangladesh Premier League, and the proposed new South African league, all are scheduled to run over that window; the eighth edition of the Pakistan Super League is tentatively scheduled to start just days after the ILT20’s finish.
The six-team ILT20 is expected to have 34 matches, with each team playing the others twice in the league, followed by four playoff matches.
The South African league, CSA’s third attempt at launching a T20 competition after the failed Global League T20 in 2017 and the now-defunct Mzansi Super League is expected to start in January, though dates for it have not been made public yet. The BBL is expected to take place in a window between December and January – last season, it started on December 5, 2021 and ended on January 28, 2022. And the next BPL is scheduled for January-February 2023.
Having such partners “bodes well for the UAE T20 League,” Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the chairman of the Emirates Cricket Board, said in a statement on Monday, adding, “I am confident that together we will achieve new heights and in the process provide entertainment and excitement to the millions of fans around the globe who are waiting for the first ball of the UAE T20 League to be bowled”.
And while the packed calendar could force a number of top T20 players to choose between franchises in different parts of the world, it could lead to a big opportunity for local UAE-based cricketers.
“It is vitally important, that through this tournament UAE-based players continue to flourish which is one of the objective of this League,” Khalid Al Zarooni, chairman of the ILT20, said.
Dr Tayeb Kamali, chairman of the ECB’s selection committee, added that the tournament “presents an excellent exposure for our players given the highly intense and competitive nature of the league”. “Such a unique international league would play a big role in attracting and nurturing a larger pool of players who will go on to represent the UAE in the years to come,” he added.