The Abu Dhabi T10 will go ahead this season, but has been rescheduled.
The 10-over competition had been set to start on November 19. Those dates were announced before the IPL was relocated to the UAE because of the pandemic. The final of the IPL is due to take place on November 10.
With the focus of UAE cricket mainly on the IPL, planning for the T10 event had been put on hold to a degree.
Now it has been decided to move the T10 back. It will now be played from January 28 to February 6, at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in the capital.
Aref Al Awani, the general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said planning is already underway to host “cricket’s elite” players in “a safe, bio-secure environment”.
“T10 is fast, punchy, exciting cricket that engages fans of the sport like few other tournaments, so we are naturally thrilled to see the 2020 tournament going ahead early next year,” Al Awani said.
“As people saw from the level of support the tournament delivered in its inaugural year, Abu Dhabi is a committed sporting destination.
“The Abu Dhabi T10 has already well and truly confirmed itself within the top tier of the emirate’s sports portfolio.”
Over 124,000 spectators attended the 2019 tournament, which was its first since relocating from Sharjah, where the first two seasons of T10 took place.
The organisers say last year’s tournament had a cumulative TV audience of more than 80 million globally, nearly 3m of which watched in the UAE on Abu Dhabi Sports.
Sony Pictures Network India, who will be the host broadcasters again, are hoping to expand those figures by 15 per cent in the new season.
“This year has proved to be a hugely challenging one for sports, so we are absolutely thrilled that Abu Dhabi will be welcoming us for the rescheduled tournament,” Shaji Ul Mulk, the league’s chairman, said.
“The Abu Dhabi T10 will continue to grow stronger every year, so we are eagerly anticipating getting back at the crease in the UAE capital.”
A date for the player auction has yet to be announced, but the competition is expected to go ahead in an eight-team, 10-day format like last year.
It is understood that a number of franchises have changed owners, so it is possible the teams will appear in different guises to before.
The competition will be held in what is already a busy season for the sport in the UAE, with the potential to be even more so.
The IPL has been a massive operation, given the Covid precautions that have been implemented, but has been well received.
As such, it is possible India will seek to relocate their international series against England to the UAE as well this winter.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India recently signed a hosting agreement with the Emirates Cricket Board.
It has also been speculated the next IPL, and even the 2021 T20 World Cup, could be hosted on behalf of India in the UAE – depending on the pandemic.
Matt Boucher, Abu Dhabi Cricket’s chief executive, said similar safety measures will be implemented at the T10 as have been in place for the IPL.
“We look forward to working in collaboration with T Ten Sports Management to ensure the efficient and safe delivery of the Abu Dhabi T10,” Boucher said.
“The operations team here at Abu Dhabi Cricket have extensive experience in delivering world-class cricket matches and tournaments, including the ongoing 2020 Dream 11 Indian Premier League.
“We will continue to work in close partnership with Abu Dhabi government authorities to ensure the continued implementation of robust Covid-19 safety protocols to safeguard all those involved in the delivery of the tournament from players to staff.”
The rescheduled dates also mean there will be no clash with the Pakistan Super League.
The PSL has rearranged the final phase of its 2020 season for November 14 to 17 in Lahore.
Given the current quarantine protocols in Abu Dhabi, those dates would have precluded the involvement in T10 of any players who are featuring in the PSL playoffs.