Robin Singh says ILT20 is stage for UAE players to showcase their potential

Former India all-rounder is confident tournament will become the biggest in region

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The DP World International League Twenty20 is the biggest platform for the UAE players to showcase their talents and skills to the rest of the world, says Robin Singh.

The ILT20 is the first major franchise-run cricket tournament staged in the UAE and sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board. It's the first T20 league run by the board of an Associate nation and given the List A status by the International Cricket Council.

The ILT20's inaugural season was held last year and the second edition got under way on January 19 and will conclude on February 17.

Also, ahead of the second edition, the founding of the ILT20 Development tournament for local players and the ILT20 Schools Cup have given it a whole new meaning to UAE cricket.

As a milestone franchise tournament of the UAE, the ILT20 provides local players with a major boost as each team is given a budget of $2.5 million and the second season has seen some rule changes with the introduction of the Super Sub and the Wildcard entry.

The Wildcard rule allows teams the option to add two additional players to their 22-player roster at any stage of the tournament.

Singh, who was the UAE’s director of cricket for just over three years until March 2023, has a good understanding of the cricketing landscape in the country, which gives him an insight into the ILT20’s growth.

The former India all-rounder is now the head coach of MI Emirates. He says it will give UAE players a big boost to their careers on the international circuits.

“The competition will only get better as it progresses and provides the UAE players the opportunity to showcase their skills and talent in the international circuit,” Singh told The National during the MI Emirates training session at the Tolerance Oval, adjoining the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

“The ILT20 season 2 has a lot more UAE players and the kind of exposure they get can only help them develop, not only for the franchises but for the national team as well.”

Singh pointed out that confidence, understanding and professionalism in the sport were more important for the players, particularly from the Associate nations, in order to progress to the next level.

“Rather than they think from a mediocre perspective of coming from an Associate nation, the players rubbing shoulders with some of the players from established countries, both on the field and in sharing the dressing rooms, can create a big impact on their efforts, performances and thought process,” he said.

“The real benefit of this tournament is to enhance their skills to showcase their talent, and if they do better, people will recognise them across the globe. So far, this tournament is good for all of us and going forward I can see it getting better.

“There’s a lot of potential out there in this tournament. There’s a lot of guys in the opposition, from all the established cricket playing countries. It’s a top-flight tournament and it’s for the players to show what they can do at this level and carve out careers.”

Singh, who has a Test and 136 ODI’s for India, believes performances from the UAE players can get them into the teams beyond their quota of four players per team.

“I don’t think it’s going to stop anyone from being selected if you can reach the required levels of an international cricketer,” he said.

“Now they allow you to pick as many as you want. It’s really good if you can compete in an international scenario. I think it’s quite open with the new rule that has come in the Wildcards. I would say it’s open for the UAE boys.”

What about providing a platform for some of the up-and-coming youngsters in India to play in the ILT20?

“I don’t think that policy’s ever been there and I don’t first see that they have the window to play here at this time of the year. There’s no way they can come and play in any of these leagues.”

Singh has high regards for the Mumbai Indians, having joined the franchise in 2010. “It’s loyalty as well as the professionalism,” he said when asked of his 14-year association with the team.

“When you’re in a franchise like this it’s the professionalism that keeps you there. I have worked with loyalty. That has always been one of the things.

“It’s about being true to the franchise and it’s about being good to go again and give your best for the franchise because they’re probably the best going around.”

The franchise has drafted former Mumbai Indian players Lasith Malinga, Kiwi pair James Franklin and Mitchell McClenaghan, and former India international Vinay Kumar to their coaching system.

“They look for people who have been good for Mumbai Indians and that’s up to the owners on these things, and ultimately try to get people who are good in the coaching set up,” Singh said when asked about that policy.

“It’s their wish and policy at the end of the day. More importantly in the franchise, you need to get good people who understand and know the way it works in the franchise.”

MI Emirates stretched their winning streak in the tournament to three with a 106-run victory over Sharjah Warriors on Friday after starting their campaign with a defeat to Delhi Capitals.

Updated: January 27, 2024, 11:47 AM