AB de Villiers will play the role of ambassador for the UAE T20x tournament, and is excited at what it can do to develop cricket in the United Arab Emirates region.
The five-team tournament, the first season of which will take place from 19 December this year to 11 January 2019, is being organised by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).
De Villiers, who won’t take part in the tournament as a player; he has retired from international cricket but has confirmed that he will continue to play Twenty20 cricket in South Africa and India.
Say hello to Mr. 360!— UAE T20X (@UAET20X) August 14, 2018
Cricket legend and #UAET20x global ambassador @ABdeVilliers17 has a message to cricket fans in the UAE and across the world.
Follow us to find out more about the UAE's first international T20 league. pic.twitter.com/8U2CGQouN6
“The main thing that attracted me the most to this tournament is what it will do for young, emerging players. It will give them a great opportunity to play alongside some of the world’s best players,” said de Villiers to The National.
“Not long ago, I was a youngster when I started playing cricket. I made my IPL (Indian Premier League) debut 10 or 11 years ago. One of my fondest memories of the tournament was spending time with guys like Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne – some legends of the game – who I did not have a reach-out to, you know.”
So what IS UAE T20x? 🤔— UAE T20X (@UAET20X) August 11, 2018
We've put together all the facts you need to know about the UAE's first international T20 league in one infographic. Check it out. pic.twitter.com/3SreBjhR9t
As an ambassador, de Villiers is expected to interact with the players, and he said he was excited “to be sharing my experience around some of the guys who want to become some of the best players in the world”.
The organisers are expecting a fair smattering of top-drawer international players, but the stated objective is to try and develop the game in the region. The UAE are No.14 in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings, and have been trying to attract more home-grown players to the game.
“Because of this [long-term approach], it (ECB) has made grassroots development of the game at the heart of [this] tournament. I think it will generate new income streams for UAE cricket for the coming years, and that can be reinvested directly into the grassroots of the game – into coaching, facilities, for infrastructure of cricket in the UAE,” explained de Villiers.
“So I think locally, for UAE and UAE cricket, it's a great, great concept.
“I think we can expect lots of international stars playing, but a big focus [will be] on young and upcoming players, which is what I really love about the tournament. I can’t wait to see how it goes in the first year.”
A total of 24 matches will be held in its first season across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, and a bunch of International Cricket Council full-member nations have extended their support to the competition along with a number of Associate nations.