Abu Dhabi Cricket has launched itself on the T20 International stage by announcing its very own inaugural tournament for October – and the Hobart Hurricanes men’s team will be playing.
This bold new competition will feature six teams – one each from the domestic T20 circuits of Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, Afghanistan and England, plus a new team full of internationally renowned stars yet to be unveiled from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The three-day tournament, tagged the Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy, will comprise seven games played at the 24,000 capacity Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium from Thursday 4 to Saturday 6 October 2018.
The series features a round-robin format then the final with $150,000 AUD in prize money on offer for first place.
The Hobart Hurricanes from Australia’s Big Bash League, the Lahore Qalandars from the Pakistan Super League, the Yorkshire Vikings from England’s T20 Blast, the Titans from South Africa's T20 Ram Slam, and the Boost Defenders from Afghanistan’s Shpageeza Cricket League will all battle together with the UAE side.
It will be regulated by Abu Dhabi Cricket (ADC) with the support of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council – a major powerhouse in UAE sports.
The ADC plans to hold this tournament annually for the next three years and a strategy is in place to enable the event to grow year-on-year.
Among the contenders, the Vikings from the Yorkshire County Cricket Club are the most successful county team in English cricketing history, while Afghanistan’s first-class Boost Defenders bear the historic name of Lashkargah city and carry the honour of Helmand Province on their shoulders.
Our Hobart Hurricanes – recent BBL07 Grand Finalists – hold the three highest run chases in Australia’s Big Bash domestic history, while the Lahore Qalandars are a mainstay of the Pakistan Super League and the second most expensive franchise in limited overs history.
Finally, the Multiply Titans are South Africa’s most award-winning and successful domestic T20 franchise.
These team line-ups will see some of the sport’s marquee players take to the Zayed Cricket Stadium pitch.
The Boost Defenders have recruited big-hitting powerhouse and world-class T20 superstar Chris Gayle.
The Lahore Qalandars’ Yasir Shah is a Pakistani international who became the fifth fastest bowler in the history of Test cricket to take 100 wickets with his leg break googlies.
There will be Gary Ballance – the striking left hander who was the first Yorkshire captain to score two hundreds in the same first class match.
Titans’ flashy middle order batsman Farhaan Behardien will appear, who was recently crowned that team’s T20 Player of the Year and whose team will be led by experienced South African veteran Albie Morkel.
“We are certainly looking forward to our Hurricanes participating in this exciting new tournament concept,” said Cricket Tasmania CEO Nick Cummins.
“It will be a high-quality challenge and bonus ‘form gauge’ leading into our home BBL season starting in December."
Unfortunately, the event does clash with the Tasmanian Tigers’ domestic JLT One-Day limited-overs competition.
“So we’ll pick our JLT Cup squad first, then we’ll look at those players who are Hurricanes contracted who aren’t in that team, and supplement them with emerging players from our academy," said Cummins.
“It’s actually the first time a BBL team has been able to participate in a tournament outside the Big Bash since the defunct Champions League.”
An announcement is also imminent about the official name and players for that sixth and final UAE team to round out the competition, comprising some of world cricket’s biggest T20 names.
“Make no mistake, this will be a dynamic field,” said His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
“The tournament will certainly help cement Abu Dhabi’s international sporting credentials, reinforcing its major events hub reputation and expand awareness of our world-class facilities.”
The tournament has also won support of global cricket’s governing body the International Cricket Council together with the Emirates Cricket Board.
“We wanted to set ourselves apart from the rest of the world and offer a different product, without creating another franchise-led league,” said Matthew Boucher, Acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Cricket.
“It’s an absolute honour to see the ‘best of the best’ from around the world’s established teams gather in Abu Dhabi to offer fans an experience that does not currently exist anywhere else.
“We are very grateful to all the teams and their management for backing this initiative and getting on board.
“And given the considerable number of subcontinental, British, South African and Australian residents in Abu Dhabi, the wider UAE and Gulf region, we are confident of packing out the Zayed Cricket Stadium.”
Each day of the three-day tournament is expected to see over 20,000 fans fill the rafters of the iconic Zayed Cricket Stadium, closely followed by millions worldwide through various broadcast channels on TV, radio and social media.
Dr Jacques Faul, CEO of South Africa’s Titans commented, "The Titans are very excited to be involved in this ground-breaking T20 event.”
“Having dominated our domestic T20 league for the last few seasons, it’s fantastic to have an international platform to assess where we are at as a franchise.
“There has been a vacuum in this regard ever since the Champions League tournament fell away.”
Boost Defenders’ CEO and owner, Ali Arshad Azimi said his team regarded inclusion in the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20 line-up as a matter of pride and a means of building international bonds.
“It gives me immense joy that the Boost Defenders have been chosen to be part of the Abu Dhabi T20. This step onto the international stage means a lot to our fans, sponsors and well-wishers.”
“This is the modern phenomenon of the globalisation of sport in action, so it’s great to be able to watch our players rub shoulders with a battalion of international cricketers and be part of the ADT20.”
Tickets and hospitality packages are available with general admission tickets starting from just AED25 and are available through Ticketmaster.ae, from Virgin Megastores and the Zayed Cricket Stadium Box Office.
For more information please visit: www.abudhabit20.ae