Exclusive: ILT20 is an enormous boost to UAE’s cricket, says Moody

The former Australian all-rounder, who has joined the Desert Vipers as Director of Cricket, believes that it will become one of the biggest franchise leagues in the world

Tom Moody (centre) with UAE Under-19 players. — Supplied photo
Tom Moody (centre) with UAE Under-19 players. — Supplied photo

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Thu 13 Oct 2022, 11:42 PM

Last updated: Thu 13 Oct 2022, 11:45 PM

Cricket in the UAE has come a long way since the sport first set foot here more than four decades ago.

Now the UAE is all set to take an even bigger leap with its own franchise-style T20 league — the International League T20 — the inaugural edition of which will be played during January and February in 2023.

The Emirates Cricket Board has left no stone unturned in an attempt to make their new six-team league a glorious success, drawing big-name players and high-profile coaches.

One of them is Tom Moody, the former Australian all-rounder who has joined the Desert Vipers as Director of Cricket.

In an exclusive interview with the Khaleej Times, the former Sunrisers Hyderabad coach predicted that the ILT20 will become one of the biggest franchise leagues in the world.

Q. It’s rare for an ICC Associate country to have a league of this magnitude. It has attracted the owners of IPL giants Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Capitals and even the Manchester United owners. How big a boost is it for the sport in the UAE?

I think it's an enormous boost. Having a league that is based here, it is going to be hugely beneficial for all the players, coming through the system and the young, aspiring players to look ahead. There are enormous benefits for players having the opportunity to play alongside, train and share the same dressing room with some of the international T20 stars on the field. And also, the coaching staff, that the various franchises will be having.

Q. You already attended a coaching session with the UAE under-19 players. As you know, the UAE Under 19 team this year won the Plate Division final at the ICC World Cup. How impressed were you with the talent?

We had a number of the under 19 players, and also some fringe national players that obviously missed out on the World Cup selection. So we had in total about 18 players (at the coaching session), they would be identified and be given the opportunity to join us. It's been very impressive actually, you know, the few hours that we had there, we had fielding drills, we had batting and bowling drills, and we had a good chance to really look at the talent that is here. It's exciting for them and obviously for us to have first-hand look at them.

Q. As the Director of Cricket at Desert Vipers, your role will probably be very big…

My role is obviously quite broad, looking over the whole cricketing strategy for the Desert Vipers, which includes helping along with the other support staff, build a player list, whether it's the overseas players or local players. Also putting in place key personnel for coaching appointments and support staff appointments, discussing with senior management, around the philosophy of how we are going to grow as the Vipers and our long-term vision. So it's an exciting time for us as a new team.

Q. Jonny Bairstow, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Trent Boult….these are massive names in international cricket. And they will all be in action at the ILT20. The standard of the league will be exceptional….

I think it's going to be very competitive. I think the standard is going to be very high. They are trying to draw a comparison with other leagues around the world, it will be very comparable to what's there in the market. And because, as you have mentioned, there are a lot of big names in the league. Nine of the 11 on the field will be all international players, and there will be an opportunity for two UAE players to be in the playing eleven as well. I think it's going to be a high standard of cricket.

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