Emirates Cricket Board gears up for IPL challenge
It remains to be seen if fans will be allowed in the matches. (KT file)
Dubai - The BCCI and ECB will be working in tandem to stage the IPL in a safe environment
Having received the official Letter of Intent from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on staging the delayed Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) is now gearing up for the challenge of hosting the world's biggest T20 tournament.
The cash-rich league, expected to be staged from September 19 to November 8 this year in the UAE, will bring with it humongous numbers.
According to Indian media reports, over 1200 people, including Indian players, officials, support staff, broadcasting team and foreign stars will be reaching the UAE shores for the high-profile event.
Not that such challenges deter the UAE. At a time when the world is grappling with the menace of Covid-19, Abu Dhabi has shown its unflinching desire to be a torch-bearer by making the UFC Fight Island a resounding success this month, creating an 11-km safe zone and conducting over 12,000 Covid-19 tests.
Such was the impact of Abu Dhabi that it left the UFC bandwagon lost of words.
Dave Shaw, the UFC vice-president, even stated that Las Vegas, the home of UFC, would now need to take a leaf out of the UAE capital's book on staging world-class events in a safe environment amid a global pandemic.
Now that the decks have been cleared for the UAE to stage arguably the biggest cricket tournament outside the ICC World Cups, the UAE government's remarkable success in handling the Covid-19 situation has given the country's cricket board a shot in the arm.
"Firstly, we are extremely pleased with how the UAE Government responded to the virus, which was as early as February and we continue to see encouraging numbers across the country - in decreasing cases and increasing recoveries," said Mubashshir Usmani, Emirates Cricket Board Secretary General, while confirming that the ECB had received the Letter of Intent from the BCCI on staging the IPL.
"Secondly, we will fully support any requirements stipulated by the relevant Health Authorities in regards to Covid-19 safety measures and management."
While the BCCI is still awaiting the Indian government's approval, Usmani revealed that two the cricket board would be working in tandem to stage the event in a safe environment.
"There are many factors which influence the operations and logistics of hosting what is the world's most exciting, popular and lucrative tournament," Usmani said.
"This is a massive movement of people and equipment and we now need to bring in the experts to discuss all aspects of UAE hosting the IPL. This includes the Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah Sports Councils, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah Tourism Bodies and the respective Government entities - such as the Police Forces and the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, all who have had strong, proven experience in such activities and we will work together to ascertain the best practices to support and deliver on a successful edition."
The will be the UAE's second voyage to the IPL, having impressed the BCCI with their world-class facilities and superb arrangements when the hosted the first phase of the tournament in 2014.
"We have a sound, solid understanding of what is required, and to whom we need to consult and engage with from this early stage through to close of the tournament," Usmani said.
"The UAE boasts some of the best practice facilities and stadia in the world across three Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah) which we are confident will be more than adequate to support the 8-team tournament."
It remains to be seen, though, if fans will be allowed in the matches.
"It's subject to approval and permission from the government. Having spectators in the stadiums, we need approval from the government," Usmani had told Khaleej Times last week.