Abu Dhabi to become new home of UAE T10 Cricket League

Shahid 'Boom Boom' Afridi has been one of the stars of the T10 League so far. (Getty Images)
Updated 19 March 2019

Abu Dhabi to become new home of UAE T10 Cricket League

  • UAE League to move base from Sharjah to UAE capital.
  • Shajji Ul-Mulk, the league’s chairman, hopes move takes the newest form of the game to the next level.

LONDON: Abu Dhabi is set to become the new home of T10 cricket for the next five years, starting from this October.
The UAE-based league has been based in Sharjah for its first two editions, attracting big crowds and big-name players. England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, West Indies all-time great Chris Gayle and Pakistan icon Shahid Afridi have all taken part in the newest — and shortest — form of the game over the past two years at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
That old venue is famous for holding the record number of ODIs, but the UAE capital has moved in and run out its neighbor to become T10’s new home.
For Shajji Ul-Mulk, the league’s chairman, the move could help take the format to the next level.
“We are very pleased to be moving to Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, as we take one of the world’s most exciting sporting cities by storm,” Ul-Mulk said.
“The third season of T10 cricket will give over 100,000 fans the chance to see some of the biggest names in cricket battle it out on the pitch over 90 fast minutes of action.”
Abu Dhabi, while not having the rich cricketing history of its UAE northern neighbor, has hosted some Test matches, ODIs and T20s, but it is hoped that hosting the T10 league will further establish it in the minds of cricket fans as a global venue.
Matt Boucher, the acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Cricket, said: “This move to Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium represents a big next step in the growth of Abu Dhabi’s cricketing ecosystem, by giving fans access to a combined sports and entertainment offering through hosting all forms of the game.
“Whether it’s international Test matches or the now shortest form of cricket the game has to offer, we are continuing to be the home of the sport in the UAE.”
The T10 format — in which both sides have 10 overs to score as many runs as possible — was introduced in the UAE two years ago. In its short lifespan so far, it has already made a name for itself and has designs on going global.
Ul-Mulk has grand plans to export cricket’s latest white-ball phenomenon far and wide.
“(Cricket) boards are coming to us and it’s all about how we fit in commercially. We will probably have one more T10 in 2019; that’s our ambition,” he said last November.
“We are talking to a few boards, but it depends on how it goes. One thing is very clear: We only want to work with boards.”
Ul-Mulk did not reveal which boards he is in direct talks with, but did hint at the format having a possible future not only in traditional cricket heartlands such as England and South Africa, but also the US.
“The US market is great, the UK market is excellent for cricket, and South Africa, too, for that matter,” he said.
“With T10 the way it is, with 90 minutes (of) cricket, (it) actually opens up new markets that cricket doesn’t have now.
“For us, the US is one of those big markets where we feel that we can reconnect cricket there. Cricket can have a strong place in the US, which it doesn’t have at the moment.”

Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019

Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”