Mohammed Amir was the first pick as the Ten10 Cricket League (TCL) had its inaugural international player draft on Sunday night.
Some of the game’s leading players will head to the UAE for the first tournament in the 10-over format next month.
Amir, the left-arm pace bowler from Pakistan, led an all-star cast as he was the first name selected at the event on board Lotus Yacht in Dubai Marina.
He was signed by Maratha Arabians, a side who have former India star Virender Sehwag as their captain and Pakistan great Wasim Akram as a team mentor.
The Arabians followed Amir’s recruitment by selecting the likes of Imad Wasim, Alex Hales and Kumar Sangakkara.
The task of knitting together that eclectic set of characters will fall on Dougie Brown, the UAE national team coach, who will fulfill a similar role with the Arabians over the four-day course of the competition.
Brown had been recruited by the franchise when a separate draft was held for UAE players on Saturday night.
Within 24 hours, he was on the yacht, sharing his thoughts with the team’s owners, as well as Wasim Akram, as to who the team should pick.
“It is a different experience for me, and I have not been in this sort of environment before,” Brown said.
“It has been very interesting sitting down with the guys, working out how we will go about our selections. I am thoroughly looking forward to it.
“I know a lot of, not just the English players, but of the overseas players who have played in the UK in recent years. It has been nice to be asked for my opinion, and for people to listen to that.”
The previous evening, in the separate draft for UAE-based players, nine national team regulars had landed deals.
Shareef Asadullah, a seam bowler who has been absent from the side for some years, was also plucked from the obscurity of domestic cricket to play for Punjabi Legends.
Mohammed Naveed, the pace spearhead of the UAE bowling attack, was phoned personally by Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s captain, to inform him he had been recruited to his Bengal Lions team.
There are certain guarantees over playing time, too. At least one UAE player must be named in the starting XI for each of five teams. The sixth, Team Sri Lanka Cricket, will draw its players exclusively from that country.
“It is nice to have UAE presence in the tournament, and to have as many players involved as we have,” Brown said.
“It is an outstanding opportunity for these guys to showcase their abilities. They need that opportunity if they are going to push for other chances in franchise cricket around the world.
“You see lots of opportunities where guys are clearly going to be squad players. Here, that is not going to be the case.
“It is a chance for them to learn, and see what it is like to play consistently at this level.”
UAE players have generally been overlooked for major leagues in the past.
Saqib Ali, the former national team batsman, was picked to play in an early edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) but never made the trip due to visa issues.
Chirag Suri, the Dubai-raised batsman, made the Gujarat Lions roster for this year’s Indian Premier League, but did not play a match.
The UAE players will get US$10,000 (Dh36,000) each for playing TCL, but Naveed said the opportunity for greater exposure playing in a televised competition with renowned international players is what is driving him.
“So long as I get leave to play, I am happy,” said Naveed, the world’s No 10-ranked T20 bowler.
“I care about being respected, not the money. It has been my dream to play in something like this, and if I do well on the TV, maybe BPL, or Pakistan Super League will follow.
“For the past two to three years my ranking has been going up. My economy rate has been good. It has been my dream to play in a big league.”