Abu Dhabi T10 League to expand UAE player quota despite national team's likely absence

UAE coach Dougie Brown describes move as 'double-edged sword' as most national team players will be unavailable due to World Cup qualifiers

The T10 League will be held in Abu Dhabi for the next five years. Courtesy Abu Dhabi T10 League
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Organisers of the Abu Dhabi T10 believe the next season of the competition will still benefit the game in the UAE, even though the country’s own leading players are not likely to feature in it.

The T10 League will switch from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi for its third season, with all its matches being played at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, starting on October 23.

That means the event will clash with the UAE’s attempt to qualify for the World Cup T20, via a competition on home soil that starts earlier on October and finishes at the start of November.

In the first two seasons of the 10-over league, it was stipulated that each of the eight franchises must have at least two UAE-qualified players per squad, with one a guaranteed starter in the playing XI.

Even though the leading UAE players will be on international duty during the third season, the organisers plan to extend the home-based player rule to a mandatory three per squad.

That will include players scouted via a talent hunt across the subcontinent, with the successful players due to be offered employment contracts in the UAE, with a view to qualifying to play for the national team after three years of residency.

“Last year we had two, this year we are extended to three UAE-resident players,” Shaji Ul Mulk, the Abu Dhabi T10 chairman, said. “We are doing an international talent hunt, and this programme is with the [Emirates Cricket Board].

“What it means is, from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, even Nepal for that matter, and Zimbabwe, we are bringing in the talent, giving them a central contract for six months, and giving them a residence visa.

“Then they qualify for T10. They get the T10 platform. So what in effect happens is a new player comes in.

“Even though the UAE squad for this year is busy, we will have talented players come in. They will become a pool that can increase the available talent in UAE cricket.”

Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, has also coached the Maratha Arabians side in the first two seasons of T10. He is frustrated that his players will not be afforded the chance to feature next time around.

“It gives more players across the UAE more exposure, but it will be disappointing for our contracted players if they are not available,” Brown said.

“We want to showcase the best we have got in the UAE. Some may argue it is great, but we know that we have some pretty good players who will be denied the chance to compete, then give themselves a chance to go on and play at a higher level.

“It is a double-edged sword. We are delighted we are in the World Cup qualifiers, that is awesome for all of us. But it is disappointing we miss out on a tournament that is in our own backyard.”

The UAE face Surrey, the English county champions, in a 50-over match at the ICC Academy in Dubai on Wednesday.