New 12,000-capacity stadium in Abu Dhabi to be ready for T20 World Cup

Abu Dhabi Cricket hope Tolerance Oval can imitate imitate the ambience of an English county outground, or Hagley Oval in New Zealand

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A new 12,000-capacity ground in Abu Dhabi will be ready for the start of the T20 World Cup, and available for use if required.

The ICC confirmed on Tuesday the competition will be relocated from India, and staged in the UAE and Oman in October and November.

The World Cup will follow on immediately after the remainder of the IPL is played out at the stadiums in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

The organisers sought out Oman as an alternative venue so the quality of pitches do not suffer because of the volume of matches.

The groundsmen of the UAE have proved adept at coping with substantial workloads in the past. Only this month, 20 T20 matches were played in the Pakistan Super League at Zayed Cricket Stadium.

The traffic did not diminish the scoring rates. In one of the last league-phase matches, Islamabad United made a Pakistan-record high score for the format, while Multan Sultans breached the 200-run mark in winning the final.

However, spreading the work around multiple venues makes sense, hence the decision to call on Oman.

Whether the preliminary round fixtures scheduled for the Oman Cricket Academy go ahead as planned remains to be seen, though.

Movement into and out of the country is limited at the moment, and events are banned. Oman reported its highest daily death toll from the coronavirus on Monday.

Abu Dhabi could provide a substitute venue, adjacent to the main Zayed Cricket Stadium, were it needed.

Eight weeks ago, Abu Dhabi Cricket started renovating the second of the three ovals on its site. Grass banks have been installed, with a capacity to host around 12,000 people.

The wicket block has space for five pitches in the centre, with an additional two either side for practice.

Floodlights suitable for TV broadcasts – with an output similar to those in the neighbouring stadium – are to be delivered in August.

Matt Boucher, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Cricket, said the ground – which will be known as Tolerance Oval – has been upgraded with a view to improving the “hosting capabilities of Abu Dhabi and UAE as a whole”.

“We haven’t built this with the [T20 World Cup] prequalifying in mind, but it will enable more practical decisions to be made for future tournaments with multiple venues,” Boucher said.

“What it does mean is the Emirates Cricket Board have a fourth international oval to envelope into any plan for multi-venue tournament hosting.”

The grass banks encircling the playing area are similar to both the cricket fields at The Sevens, Dubai, as well as Pitch 2 in the neighbouring rugby facility.

Abu Dhabi Cricket, though, hope to imitate the ambience of an English county outground, or Hagley Oval in New Zealand.

“We love that ground, and we also talk about beautiful county grounds in England, and we are trying to recreate that beauty,” Boucher said.

“We are not trying to recreate Hagley Oval, but we would like Tolerance Oval to have that sort of feel. A festival atmosphere with 10-14,000 people is perfect for non-stadium cricket.”

Updated: June 30, 2021, 6:34 AM