The organisers of the six-year old Abu Dhabi T10 League are planning to expand their reach to five different locations around the world. Rajeev Khanna , an IPL veteran who has worked extensively with Rajasthan Royals and Punjab Kings, is overseeing the league’s expansion plans having joined T Ten Sports Management as the Chief Operating Officer earlier this year.
In partnership with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), the first edition of the T10 League in the island nation has already been announced and will be held in June. The organisers are confident of staging one in Zimbabwe in March and two more in Europe and North America in the near future.
“The biggest thumbs up we have got is the first ever sanction from ICC full member SLC. They have approved the league and will be part of the league. We are also in talks with Zimbabwe and closing on that (deal),” Khanna told PTI on Saturday.
“When full members of ICC are endorsing this league, it shows it has meat in it. In times to come, I am sure other boards including the BCCI will consider it too.
“We are planning one in Europe as well, either Scotland or the Netherlands and the fifth one in North America,” he said.
The competition has been approved by the International Cricket Council though the world body has not recognised T10 as a format yet. The ICC, however, has sent its anti-corruption unit to Abu Dhabi for the event.
There is definite interest in the league from the world’s leading players. Biggies like Kieron Pollard, Moeen Ali, David Miller, Nicholas Pooran, Tim David, Shakib Al Hasan are all part of the Abu Dhabi T10 League being played here.
“1600 international players had registered for the draft but we could choose only 250. It shows there is a lot of interest and that makes us feel more confident about the league’s future,” said Khanna referring to the interest for the Abu Dhabi leg .
“We are not here to compete with the T20 format. T10 can work as a talent feeder series to T20. The players love the format as it is quick and it is only two weeks (the T20 leagues are much longer).” Despite the growing interest, Khanna said the league has its set of challenges.
“The biggest challenge is to market this product and make it sustainable.
Operation challenges are also there as it is a new format and not everyone knows about it including the players.” Finding a window for the planned five legs of T10 will also be a challenge with international calendar and franchise cricket schedule being busier than ever.
The IPL has become a billion dollar product and the BCCI is firm on maintaining its exclusivity in the league market. Considering that, is there a way to stage T10 in India? “I have come on board recently and I would be talking to the BCCI and see if there is opportunity and acceptance for it. Who would not love to have the league in India? We are also in talks with state associations,” added Khanna.
Since India’s women players are allowed to play in overseas leagues, Khanna hopes that they will be part of the inaugural women’s competition in Sri Lanka in June.
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