Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

MCL committed ‘to protecting players’ after stepping in to resolve ‘teething issues’

Both matches in the new Twenty20 league went ahead as scheduled at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium Wednesday, even though it is believed some players were ready to pull out.
 Graeme Smith of Virgo Super Kings and Brett Lee of Virgo Super Kings celebrate winning the Oxigen Masters Champions League match between Libra Legends and Virgo Super Kings at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on February 3, 2016 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Graeme Smith of Virgo Super Kings and Brett Lee of Virgo Super Kings celebrate winning the Oxigen Masters Champions League match between Libra Legends and Virgo Super Kings at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on February 3, 2016 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Virgo Super Kings 168/5 (20/20 ov)

Smith 57; Hogg 3-12

Libra Legends 163/4 (20/20 ov)

Lumb 54, Kallis 48; Bandara 2-36

Virgo Super Kings won by 5 runs

SHARJAH // The organisers of the Oxigen Masters Champions League say they remain committed to “protecting” retired international cricketers, despite reports some players involved in the competition’s debut season remain unpaid.

Both matches in the new Twenty20 league went ahead as scheduled at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium Wednesday, even though it is believed some players were ready to pull out.

A spokesman for the T20 league said the tournament’s organisers had “stepped in to resolve teething issues,” and that all players will be paid in full.

“There are some teething issues, as you can imagine for a league happening for the first time,” the spokesman said.

“The MCL’s commitment is always to protecting the players. That is why this tournament was launched, we wanted to look after the players after their retirement.

“It is a concept the players believe in, we believe in, and the team owners believe in. The MCL is committed to giving players a second wind.

“It is about giving them a second chance at the game they have played for so long. We are there for the players, that is why we have put this on.

Read more: When is retired not retired? Masters Champions League fixing ‘teething issue’

“We have stepped in to resolve these teething issues. All the issues have been solved, and these really were just teething issues.”

The issues for the MCL have been many since its grand official launch in the ballroom of the Burj Al Arab last June.

Back then, Dean Jones, the former Australia batsman, announced he was a partner in a new league for former stars of the international game.

In a YouTube trailer, he said he was about to announce “the greatest news that cricket has ever heard in the UAE”.

Within months after that lofty claim, though, Jones had been announced as the coach of one of the franchises of Pakistan Super League, the other T20 league that is starting in the UAE amid much hype.

Wasim Akram, who had been another star on the top table at the MCL launch, also subsequently switched allegiances and is a director of the Islamabad PSL team.

Yesterday was the last day on which the MCL would be the only show in town. Now it will be in direct competition with live matches in the PSL, which starts when Jones’s Islamabad side play the Quetta franchise at the Dubai International Stadium Thursday.

The fact the competitions will be overlapping has meant the MCL had to abbreviate its original schedule.

As such, matches will clash directly with ones in the Pakistan Cricket Board-organised competition, and, as with Wednesday’s meeting between Libra Legends and Virgo Super Kings, some will be staged in office hours.

The stands at the 3pm fixture in Sharjah were sparsely populated. Jacques Kallis, the captain of the defeated Libra Legends side, said it was disappointing the match attracted such low numbers of spectators.

“It is a little bit sad,” Kallis said. “Hopefully it is because it was a work day and there will be better crowds at night. It is disappointing.”

Graeme Smith, Kallis’s former South Africa teammate but conqueror for the day, as captain of the Virgo side that beat the Legends by five runs, with Smith scoring 57 runs off 42 balls, said the small crowd was not unexpected.

“Having played a huge amount of international cricket here I know that, even at international level, you don’t get crowds piling in.

“It just doesn’t seem to happen regularly. Hopefully it will improve as the tournament goes on. Certainly here in Sharjah I think there is more of a chance of getting really good crowds.”

Sri Lanka greats Sangakkara and Muralitharan set up third-straight win for Gemini Arabians

Gemini Arabians 190/4 (20/20 ov)

Sangakkara 65, Sehwag 59; Razzaq 1-25, Jeetan 1-34

Capricorn Commanders 180/8 (20.0/20 ov)

Prince 44, Razzaq 32; Muralitharan 3-29

Gemini Arabians won by 10 runs

In Wednesday’s late game, Kumar Sangakkara continued his irresistible form by setting the platform for a third successive win for Gemini Arabians.

The former Sri Lanka batsman hit five sixes in a rapid innings of 65, as the in-form MCL leaders amassed 190 from their 20 overs.

Capricorn Commanders battled pluckily against the inevitable, but finished 10 runs short of the Gemini total.

Not for the first time in this competition, let alone their careers, Sangakkara’s feats with the bat were neatly complimented by Muttiah Muralitharan’s bowling. The offspinner claimed three wickets as the Capricorn run-chase faltered.

The openers, Ashwell Prince and Andrew Symonds, had given the Commanders a chance with an opening stand worth 65 in 33 balls. Gemini’s canny bowling attack meant the chase ultimately proved futile, though.

pradley@thenational.ae

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Updated: February 3, 2016 04:00 AM

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