After a successful Abu Dhabi T10 Season 6, cricket’s fastest format is looking to grow and leave its imprint globally, with continents like Asia and Africa earmarked as the next pit stops in a storied journey.
T10, the brainchild of TTen Global Sports’ Chairman Shaji Ul Mulk, is taking serious steps. They have already announced a tournament in Sri Lanka and another in Zimbabwe. It hopes to bring together more than 30 nations from the continent and is also locked in and ready for rollout.
“This is a very unique time for African nations, and when we think of how we are going to be part of this, to grow the game, we are very excited. For us in Africa, the franchises coming here would open up the doorway for all of us to grow much better. In a few years, with the help of this partnership, we should be able to compete with the big guys. The most important thing is to give the youngsters a chance to play at the highest levels, with their icons,” said Kwame Asare, Chairman of the African Cricket Association.
“This is a new brand of cricket that is coming to the continent of Africa and the country of Zimbabwe. All the sportspersons and stakeholders, men and women have embraced this format and we want this movement to grow from here. And on the other side, qualification for the T20 World Cup after a while was a big thing for us too, it has captured the mood of the nation and the fans, especially after the win against Pakistan. The addition of T10 has just brought more excitement among the fans and the cricket family,” said Dr Tevengwa Mukuhlani, Chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket.
The giant that is the T10 hopes to proactively attract various nations around the globe to grow cricket and inspire youngsters to take up the sport. While bringing more cricketers into the sport is one aspect of the movement, the T10 bandwagon is also keen on attracting more fans to the sport, especially the newer generation.
In Africa, the high-octane brand of cricket is not going to be restricted to only the men’s game but also in the works are plans for the women’s tournament. Over the last few years, franchise cricket and leagues in T20 and T10 have taken the world by storm, with cricketers and fans taking to it as a fish does to water.
Speaking about the rapid growth and expansion, Shaji Ul Mulk, Chairman of TTen Global Sports, said, “I think the league and bilateral cricket are both very different and hold their place in the hearts of the fans. Our objective, with the T10, is to draw a new crowd, and attract more of the youth also there are a lot of countries that don’t follow cricket as closely. With a 90-minute format, we hope to develop the sport in these countries.”
The first-ever edition of this dynamic tournament was held in 2017, with the International Cricket Council officially approving the Abu Dhabi T10. The league has seen significant year-on-year growth in viewership and economic value, with the 2021-2022 edition of the tournament having reached 342 million viewers through television and digital streaming compared to roughly 37 million viewers in the 2017 edition.
Furthermore, such has been the T10’s popularity that the sixth season of the tournament in Abu Dhabi was graced by two new franchises from the USA, the New York Strikers and the Morrisville SAMP Army, who finished second and third, respectively.
“The T10 is hoping to make its presence felt on at least five continents. While the Middle East, Asia and Africa are already locked in, we also want to bring under our umbrella the Americas and Europe,” Shaji Ul Mulk added.
The T10 movement aims not only at bringing on board more countries that aren’t traditionally nations that play cricket but also has one eye on the Summer Olympics, the very pinnacle of sporting excellence.
“For cricket to be part of the Olympic family, it will only be a good thing. The whole thing is time-bound as the ICC can’t be there beyond a certain number of days. So, I believe, it is inevitable that T10 is going to be the answer to this due to its shorter duration, especially because it is a 90-minute overall game,” said Cassim Suliman, CEO of the African Cricket Association.