Colin Munro confident ahead of ILT20 bow as Desert Vipers show their true colours

First Glazer-owned cricket franchise launch jerseys as they prepare to bare their fangs in new UAE franchise competition

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Since the Glazer family purchased one of the six franchises in the embryonic International League T20 a little over a year ago, the new entity has mostly downplayed its links with Manchester United.

The Premier League giants are also owned by Lancer Capital, whose chairman is Avram Glazer, and whose first foray into cricket will begin when Desert Vipers side face Sharjah Warriors in Dubai on Sunday.

As the side started its final preparations for the big kick off for the UAE’s new T20 league, there was at least a hint as to who is backing them.

On Monday morning in Jebel Ali, the Vipers unveiled their jersey. Colin Munro, the New Zealand opener who is the team’s captain, arrived on a speedboat from the tranquil waters of the Arabian Gulf wearing it.

Fittingly, it is a red shirt, with black detail. When they take the field for their opener against Sharjah, maybe they will be wearing white shorts and socks, and football boots, too.

“The owners are happy with how the shirts look,” said Phil Oliver, the Vipers’ chief executive. “There has been a consultation process and the owners have been pretty involved with that.

“We think it is bold, vibrant and different. We hope that is what the Desert Vipers are going to be in this tournament, and have a bit of bite as well.”

The Vipers are the only non-Indian owned side in the new competition, which involves a raft of players from overseas, as well as 24 from the UAE.

Three of the teams – Dubai Capitals, MI Emirates and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders – are run by the owners of Indian Premier League franchises.

While the other three sides may be giving away a little in terms of franchise league experience, the Vipers are confident they will be able to compete when the tournament gets under way.

Their side includes the likes of T20 World Cup winners Alex Hales and Tymal Mills, Sri Lankan all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga, as well as their in-form captain.

The jersey unveiling was Munro’s first duty after arriving on the red-eye flight from Australia’s Big Bash League, where he had been in fine touch for Brisbane Heat.

Desert Vipers chief executive Phil Oliver speaks to the press at the jersey launch ahead of the International League T20. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Next up will be trying to mould together a new set of players into a competitive unit, but he is confident.

“In terms of our management and coaching support staff, there is so much experience there,” Munro said.

“We have captains all the way through our line-up. I will be leaning on [Vipers’ England wicketkeeper Sam Billings] as much as I can, and have already had chats with him about our squad. We are already looking forward to it.

“It is pretty relaxed and the only thing extra I am going to have to do on game day is toss a coin.

“We have class the whole way down [the squad]. It is going to be tough to leave some of those players out, but you have to manage those squads as well as you can.

“If you can create a good environment, guys still want to be a part of it even if they are not playing, and are still giving at games and training, that is all I can ask for.”

Tom Moody, Vipers’ director of cricket, is targeting a place in the February 12 final in Dubai.

“There are good cricketers and teams that we will be coming across, but at the end of the day we feel confident we will be playing finals,” Moody said.

“That is the aim, to be there at the back end of the tournament. Hopefully we have some good form on our side, and a little bit of luck.”

Updated: January 10, 2023, 2:42 AM