KT Exclusive: Decision on Abu Dhabi T10 fan attendance next week

Dubai - The fourth instalment of the League and the second iteration in the UAE capital will take place from January 28 to February 6, 2021



Abu Dhabi Cricket CEO Matthew Boucher (second from left). — Supplied photo
Abu Dhabi Cricket CEO Matthew Boucher (second from left). — Supplied photo

By James Jose

Published: Wed 30 Dec 2020, 9:40 PM

Last updated: Wed 30 Dec 2020, 9:53 PM

The decision on allowing spectators to attend the Abu Dhabi T10 League will be known sometime next week, Matthew Boucher, CEO of Abu Dhabi Cricket, revealed on Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview with the Khaleej Times, Boucher, who is also advisor to the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), said that they will be guided by the Government regarding spectators’ attendance at the tournament.

The fourth instalment of the League and the second iteration in the UAE capital will take place from January 28 to February 6, 2021.

“Obviously, the pandemic is moving in a daily motion. We will hear about the government guidance, the government will guide us regarding crowd capacity, at the end of next week. We will be interested in hosting spectators but only in accordance with the necessary protocols,” said Boucher.

Boucher also revealed that a different set of Covid protocols will be put in place for the tournament, as compared to the Indian Premier League (IPL), which the UAE had hosted from September to November.

“The protocols have moved somewhat from the IPL. The IPL was three tests within six days together with the departure tests. So, we have made the departure test protocol, the arrival test protocol and then three tests in three days when all the teams and all the players will serve the isolation period. So, on day three evening or on day four, upon completion of the requisite testing, the teams will be able to practice and exercise and join their team owners. So, for the safety of all involved, we are implementing a three-day isolation period from arrival to the start of training upon the conclusion of the requisite negative testing, daily negative PCR testing. Once they are through the third night, into day four, there will be testing every 48 hours for everybody involved,” he elaborated.

Boucher also said that they had gleaned a lot from hosting the IPL in a bio-secure bubble and felt that India’s franchise tournament was the benchmark when it came to biosecurity.

“The IPL and certainly the biosecurity attempted at the IPL was the gold standard of sport events delivery. We now have this gold standard to learn from as our foundation, moving forward. It goes without saying that biosecurity cannot be compromised. The agreed zoning between teams, players, guests, officials and broadcast is incredibly important and how we managed the sanitisation of our venues, how we managed our social distancing and how we managed our testing process together with our brilliant partners at VPS Healthcare. So, all of those areas of event delivery, we learnt a lot about during the IPL. We now have that as our starting blocks, we have wireless technology, we have movement technology in the host hotels, in the practice facilities, in the stadium facilities, in the changing rooms, we are notified immediately if players are in the wrong areas, for their safety, we are notified immediately, if there is over capacity in certain areas. So, we have now have a template moving forward and we have learnt a lot from it as we put it in place for all the cricket that will be hosted in Abu Dhabi,” he explained.

Following the draw and the Players’ Draft, the schedule for the tournament is likely to be announced on Monday.

Boucher said that preparations for the League have been ongoing and running smoothly.

“The preparations so far have been excellent. We are working with the government stakeholders here in Abu Dhabi to ensure that the necessary and requisite approvals are in place, working closely with NCEMA (National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority), working closely with the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, to ensure that permissions are in place. Those permissions are in place. The government is fully supportive of the event. They are extremely excited to be running the event and partnering with us for the event. So, in terms of the host city logistics and host city permissions, we are in an excellent position. And we have conducted the draw and the players’ draft. The schedule is to be announced. The snow ball of interest and excitement is moving quickly,” Boucher said.

The format has been gaining popularity with each passing year and Boucher said that the abridged version suits Abu Dhabi’s push when it comes to sports tourism.

“It is a very popular format and that is exactly why the Government of Abu Dhabi signed a five-year contract with T Ten Sports Management. We believe that the hi-octane, the world’s fastest cricket, the interest, the excitement that each evening holds, 66 players for every match evening, over five and a half hours, or three matches, is incredibly exciting cricket to watch. And that’s exactly the reason why Abu Dhabi believed in the product so much and we have three government entities supporting the product in Abu Dhabi. It suits Abu Dhabi perfectly, it is a fantastic fit for us. We have a tourism product that is 29 matches over 10 days and we have high global visibility and it doesn’t surprise me at all that this concept of short form, exciting, fast, hi-octane cricket is now of interest for other global entities,” he said.

Talk moved towards perhaps expanding the League to include more teams but Boucher preferred quality over quantity.

“More is not necessarily best. What we want as destination Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Cricket is the eight strongest teams on the start line, well organised teams, and we want the strongest players to be within those teams. That provides the best competition, that provides the global audience, that, therefore catapults the name of Abu Dhabi around the world by the cricket viewerships. I don’t necessarily believe that more is better and I do feel that having the eight strongest teams on the start line, like the front end of the Formula One grid, is where our event needs to target. And that’s what we are currently doing,” felt Boucher.

james@khaleejtimes.com


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