Team Abu Dhabi mentor Kumar Sangakkara backs T10 to thrive

Sri Lankan great says game could grow in non-Test playing nations

Sri Lanka cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara believes the T10 format has the potential to grow beyond the UAE boundaries, especially in non-Test playing countries.

The first two editions of the T10 was played in Sharjah before Abu Dhabi Cricket, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, signed a five-year deal with the T10 Cricket League for the competition to be played exclusively at Zayed Cricket Stadium from last year.

Sangakkara steps in as the mentor of Team Abu Dhabi for the tournament from January 28 to February 6.

“The world has changed to be able to enjoy more than one format of cricket,” the former Sri Lanka captain said during a virtual press conference on Monday.

“There is cricket for the purist, cricket for the busy executives, cricket for the novice and all those who love the buzz and excitement of the T10. Lots of regional boards and franchises are looking at this format closely.

“There is an opportunity to spread the excitement of T10 to the traditionally non-Test playing countries where they don’t have tight international schedules.”

Sangakkara, who scored 28,016 runs in international cricket across all formats in a career that spanned 15 years, says he is “really passionate” about his new role with Team Abu Dhabi and hopes he can pass on his knowledge and experience.

"It’s an experience that I find really challenging and interesting. Will this lead into something more, that I have to wait and see," he said.

“I captained Sri Lanka and there was a mentoring part to play as the senior leadership.

“It’s a role to understand the psychological, technical and the personalities of the players, to motivate them and how to get the best out of them."

Sangakkara said the most important part of a mentor’s role was always to be in the background and"quietly nudge players into the right direction" with clarity of thought.

“You need to take calculated risks and you have to have an open and creative mind right from ball one to be able to do well in the format,” he said.

“A lot of the players that come here are exposed to international cricket and players who have been playing at a high level in the domestic and franchise tournaments.

“It’s a combination of things because different players bring different aspects, perspectives, viewpoints and abilities to the mix. It’s a real dynamics that you have to balance out in fielding the final combination.

“It’s really about how well you can put together a side that really complement each other that can withstand and match-up against the opposition."

Sangakkara will be part of a coaching set up including former UAE coach Dougie Brown and Keith Brown, whom he worked with at Warwickshire in 2007.

“All I can say is it’s going to be a challenge, knowing all the international players and how competitive they are," he added.

“It’s going to be a fun tournament where we want to play an exciting brand of cricket putting everything in line in terms of efforts, planning, strategy and tactics. Hopefully that would pave the way for us to win.”