T10 format perfectly suited for cricket in Olympics, feels ex-ICC chief Lorgat

Former ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat believes that the 10-overs-a-side format has the potential to attract more fans across the globe to watch cricket.

Haroon Lorgat believes that the Abu Dhabi T10 League has helped unearth local talent in the UAE.   -  FILE PHOTO/PTI

In his first stint with the innovative Abu Dhabi T10 League tournament, former ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat is up against a stiff challenge amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lorgat, who was appointed the league's director of strategy and development in October, remarked that the experience with the 10-overs format is new to him, while citing the tournament’s potential for global development as a factor behind his decision to take up the role.

“When I visited the tournament last year, I was quite impressed at not just the game and the way players have adapted, but also the attractiveness for the fans,” he said in an interaction with Sportstar.

The fourth edition of the league, which is set to begin on January 28, witnessed attendance of over 1,20,000 fans last season. However, Lorgat remains unsure of spectators' presence this time owing to COVID-19 concerns.

"We are governed by the regulations of the UAE and Abu Dhabi government on whether the spectators will be allowed. The roll-out of the vaccines is well under-way (in UAE). Let’s hope that the pandemic is under control by the end of January. If we get any number of fans for this event, we would be grateful," the South African said.

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The tournament which was rescheduled from November to January has its task cut out with heavy logistical challenges for the season.

“The challenge currently is around ensuring a safe and secure bio-bubble environment. You must be very careful with the player flights and the kind of quarantine period that they would need. Logistically, it is a far greater challenge (due to the pandemic) and it adds to the cost of staging the event,” Lorgat said.

Olympics and global avenues for T10

Having led the ICC and Cricket South Africa for years, Lorgat has no doubts about T10 cricket finding space on the global front. He said: “It is a format which lends to young cricketers embracing and playing. I would attempt to introduce this format to other countries and it would be great if, in a year or two, it is staged in other parts of the world.”

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He was quick to back England limited-overs captain, Eoin Morgan’s statement to see the T10 format at the Olympics. “If it is approved as a proper format (by the ICC), it would be exceptional to be played at an event like the Olympics or the Commonwealth,” Lorgat said.

“It is 90 minutes. The attraction is you need one venue and you can play three matches in a day, if not more. It is hugely attractive and the teams and players love it because there is so much focus on the game, rather than to different venues which can be taxing,” he added.

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The league which features some of the biggest names like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Shahid Afridi, has also unearthed young homegrown talent from the UAE.

“The league has helped to develop young players like it has been elsewhere in the world. Like in the IPL, look at the quality of young players that have come out from India. There are young talents that are picked up by the franchises here this time as well. Playing with the best talents in the world helps to improve their game,” he said.

Lorgat also added that the league hopes to take the scouting structure to other countries. He said: “We are planning to take it elsewhere in the world as well. To grow the format and to grow the attraction of not just the Abu Dhabi T10 league but similar leagues around the world as well.”

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