T10 League: Gully-style cricket now an Olympic dream

The Abu Dhabi T10 League did the unthinkable — conduct 29 matches in 10 days to set a template for the Olympics.

“If this format gets into the Olympics, it will be amazing for all players from all around the world. It fits in with the time-frame, it is not too long. It will give people a snapshot into what cricket is like. If it ever comes about, I would like to get involved in it and push my case,” says Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Moores, son of former England coach Peter Moores.   -  Getty Images

We all have grown up playing backyard cricket with a tennis ball. The matches would vary from eight overs to 10 overs depending on the number of players in each team. Four years ago, the Abu Dhabi T10 League took the childhood emotion into the stadiums; a format more brutal than the first powerplay of a T20 game with international players in action.

In 2021, the league officials did the unthinkable by conducting 29 games in 10 days in a bio-bubble amid the COVID-19 pandemic to set a template as cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics continues to be discussed.

READ | Cricket in Olympics? Sangakkara feels a lot needs to be done

The positives of T10

The tournament is also scouting uncapped talent from different parts of the world. Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Moores, son of former England coach Peter Moores, is yet to make his international debut but he is a crucial player for Bangla Tigers in the T10 League. “It’s lovely being out in the middle in the carnage called T10 cricket. As a young player, to get to learn from the experienced players in the tournament, is a great asset. It is a fast and growing format. It puts a microscope on your skills. As a bowler, you have to be really on point. As a batter, from ball one, you have to attack straight-up. It excites me,” he tells Sportstar  in a virtual interaction from the United Arab Emirates. The challenge of T10 lies in being aggressive and being aware of the field position. A batsman doesn’t have the luxury to select a matchup bowler, he has to go for everything. “Like any game, you have video footage of different players. You workout who your matchup is most likely to be but you have to be quite open. Anything can be thrown at you. You need to use your crease and hit 360.”

Olympic-friendly format

Cricket’s only appearance in the Olympics happened in 1900 with Great Britain winning the gold medal. T10’s chances in the Games excites Moores who has full support of his father, a Sussex stalwart in the English county. “My father has been watching all the games. I respect him as a cricket coach. If I play a bad innings, I will ask him. He loves this format and the fact that the players are expressing themselves.

“If this format gets into the Olympics, it will be amazing for all players from all around the world. It fits in with the time-frame, it is not too long. It will give people a snapshot into what cricket is like. If it ever comes about, I would like to get involved in it and push my case,” says Moores.

The matches usually last 90 minutes.

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

Platform to improve skills

England international Tom Banton supports the idea of cricket in the biggest global sporting event. “I haven’t really thought too much about the Olympics but I think if we can get involved in the Olympics in a few years time, it will be great,” says the exciting batsman, who turned out for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League in 2020.

England international Tom Banton is known to play the switch hit, paddle sweep, reverse and scoop. He feels any short-format cricket can test the shot-making abilities of a batsman and T10 offers the rehearsal space.   -  Getty Images

 

Banton is known to play the switch hit, paddle sweep, reverse and scoop. He feels any short-format cricket can test the shot-making abilities of a batsman and T10 offers the rehearsal space. “There are a lot of bowlers who I haven’t seen before. You get used to different bowlers when you go around the world. You got to target every bowler in T10 cricket. Any bowler comes in, I look to hit a six if you get out you get out, there are so many batters left to come. That’s the mindset.”

The Qalandars batter is keen on imbibing strength from West Indies batting star Nicholas Pooran. “We want to hit the balls out of the ground like the West Indians do, like Nicholas does, that’s what I am trying to improve by playing T10 cricket.”

ALSO READ | Dwayne Bravo: T10 can do to cricket what T20 did

Support from the Caribbeans

The presence of West Indies stars with showstoppers Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo have turned the tournament into a more charismatic one. Northern Warriors, led by Pooran, emerged champions of the 2021 edition.

Rovman Powell, who hit the winning runs for Warriors, adds: “T10 can sharpen your skills for the longer version. The experience is useful in the last five of a T20 game and the last 10 of a 50-over game when you are looking to maximise.”

“T10 can sharpen your skills for the longer version. The experience is useful in the last five of a T20 game and the last 10 of a 50-over game when you are looking to maximise,” says West Indies all-rounder Rovman Powell.   -  Getty Images

 

"If there is a format of cricket in the Olympics, it has to be T10 and not an ODI or Tests. T10 would draw a person’s attention because it is so short and spicy. It’s just for the governing body now to see if they can make it happen.” England captain Eoin Morgan was the first cricketer to bat for T10 as an Olympic commodity.

After Kumar Sangakkara seconded the World Cup-winning captain, the International Cricket Council took note. In the recent past, Gayle and Bravo have spoken illustriously about the format as an Olympic option The countdown to Los Angeles 2028 has begun.