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The aim is to see bilaterals being played in this format: T10 global chairman | Cricket

The Abu Dhabi T10 completed its seventh season last month. New York Strikers became the champions by defeating the Deccan Gladiators in the final to stop them from completing a hat-trick of titles. The format and the tournament are gaining popularity more than ever. But it is still far from being compared to the other three popular formats of the game. Shaji Ul Mulk, the chairman of T10 Sports Management spoke to HT to shed light on the future of the format, how the tournament is spreading its wings and playing a big part in the development of the game at the grassroots level.

Shaji Ul Mulk with the Abu Dhabi T10 trophy

Here are the excerpts

What are the different stages of organising a tournament like the Abu Dhabi T10?

This format is about speed and fun. It’s not a standard cricket tournament. We are full-on entertainment, with fashion shows, with artists’ performances. We have the top commentators in various languages. Almost 1100 people are involved behind the scenes in executing an event like this. It helps that we are in year seven now. And the team which works behind pulling up the show, are very experienced and has been really doing it every year.

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This was the seventh edition of the tournament. How has the league evolved over the years?

We try and bring in innovations each year, which is challenging, but exciting at the same time. We have three games a day and a 30-minute gap. We’d like to fill that with a little more entertainment than normal. So we’ve started that in Zimbabwe. And so you can see every break now has a live performance on the ground, whether it is a fashion show and an artist performing, or whatever, I think it’s all about giving additional entertainment to the crowd. And that’s one thing we’ve done, you know, different from the rest of the years, we’ve also got our fan engagement to another level by putting them on a blockchain programme.

How does Abu Dhabi T10 help cricket in UAE and now that it is expanding to places like Zimbabwe and the USA, does the league play a part in developing local talent?

When we do the tournament, it is not just 12 days of cricket, we are well interested in investing in an entire country’s program. For example, in Zimbabwe, we got involved in the domestic cricket development program. We did a nationwide talent hunt. We also focussed on school cricket and awarded scholarships. You will be surprised to know that football was the number one sport in Zimbabwe before T10 happened and now the whole nation is now talking about cricket being the favourite sport. That’s the change that we are very excited and happy about. And it’s the same thing here in Abu Dhabi. The UAE has now become a force in cricket in terms of organization mega-events.

At one point, T10 was being looked at as an option for the Olympics, but now with T20 already taking that… what is the future of T10 cricket? Could it also be some way into a multi-sports event at some point?

T10 or any format for that matter gets globally recognized when the national teams start playing that it regularly. And I think the journey starts with the full member boards adopting the format and then comes a bilateral between the two countries. We’ve crossed the first stage of that long journey. Both the Sri Lanka Cricket Board and Zimbabwe Cricket Board and even the USA… That’s three votes. Now, I think the next journey would be when there’s a bilateral series of T20s and ODIs, a T10 also starts getting played.

Any chances of ICC recognising the format and if there is any step taken by the Abu Dhabi T10 or T10 Global to make sure the format gets more popular among member boards?

T10 is a recognized format by the ICC. So yes, I think it’s a journey as they go by, like I said earlier, T10 needs to be adopted more by the countries to be playing bilaterals first. And when that happens, then the real game following of a national team follows. And then I think that goes forward. T10 is played by many countries today.

A lot of players who are not regulars in international cricket come down to T10. But could we see a calendar shift which could also allow regular cricketers who play all three formats regularly to come down to T10?

T10 from the beginning has attracted an enormous amount of international players. We had more than 40 Current World Cup players participating in the Abu Dhabi T10. And we have 1600 internationals signed up for 100 spots. It is very much about current international playing. Yes. Just like IPL, We do allow and welcome top recently retired, cricketers as well. Like, why would you not have players like Pollards and Bravos?

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