More people watching T10, it is faster: Morgan
MUMBAI: Three matches per day, 90 minutes per match, 10 overs a-side, 45 minutes per innings, three overs reserved for powerplay, two overs per bowler per game and no limit whatsoever when it comes to hitting the ball out of the park.
Welcome to cricket's newest baby, growing healthily and happily in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - the Abu Dhabi T10 League.
Be it a 32-ball 87 from Alex Hales or a 25-ball 77 from Nicholas Pooran or the mindboggling 183-2 off just 10 overs from the Northern Warriors last season, cricket's latest format has caught the imagination of those looking for accelerated action.
Armed with a go-ahead from the International Cricket Council (ICC) and backed by the Abu Dhabi cricket board and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, that has HH Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan - the crown prince of Abu Dhabi - as its chief patron, the T10 league has eight franchises playing a total of 29 matches over a period of 10 days, catering to an estimated audience of around 700 million across the world.
With two seasons to show for from 2017 and 2018, the 2019 edition of the T10 league is set to kick off on November 14 at Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed stadium. England's World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan has been roped in as the brand ambassador of the league. He believes the hunger for compact and intensified cricket - one that provides wholesome entertainment in the white ball format - has found a new home in this 10-over version.
"More people are watching because it's a faster game and we're playing in a city that loves to do things big. Big stars, big audiences, big action on the pitch. And players love playing in Abu Dhabi because it represents an audience that loves one-of-a-kind entertainments. That's T10 in a nutshell," says Morgan.
The league has the thorough backing of the ICC, which means all match officials, including the field umpires and the match referees come from the governing body's existing elite panel. That aside, the ICC's own Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and the anti-doping authorities are around to provide vigilance.
"This is a very fast format and I'm sure children will take a liking towards the league. It is like watching a football match, the action is over in 90 minutes and there is lot of drama and entertainment. It is the next big thing in world cricket. As the format gathers more fans, we want to make sure that no one is left disappointed," says the league's founder and T10 Sports Management chairman Shaji ul Mulk.
Family entertainment - that's what he likes to describe the league as. A compact 10-day schedule that will see matches beginning this season at 3.30 pm local time in Abu Dhabi and host three matches a day with an hour's gap between each game has been designed to provide the viewers with the option and opportunity to watch as many as 66 cricketers in action every day.
"The success of Abu Dhabi T10 can lead to greater things for cricket. As more people enjoy the game live or on TV, this can lead to greater development and the spread of cricket to other non-traditional countries," says former India player Zaheer Khan, who will also participate in the league this year.
Zaheer and Morgan aside, the other big names include the likes of Shane Watson and Cameron White from Australia, West Indians Darren Sammy, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo; Sri Lankan duo Angelo Matthews and Lasith Malinga; and Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad and Rashid Khan among others.
Sony Pictures Network, Sony Liv and Jio are on board as broadcast and OTT partners of the league while Kerala Knights and Northern Warriors have won the first and second season respectively. "This media agreement is truly unique, broadcasting the destination of Abu Dhabi to over 700 million homes in India via 6 of the most renowned television and streaming channels in India," says Matthew Boucher, the CEO of Abu Dhabi Cricket.