Riding on the passion of Qatar’s big cricket crazy population, an exciting recent World Cup and with an aim to take the game in the country to the next level, the Qatar Cricket Association has announced the Qatar Premier T10 Cricket League (QPL).
The Qatar national team has been making waves at various continental level tournaments and qualifiers in recent years, making it to the Asian division of the ICC World T20 Qualifiers, picking up a thrilling victory recently in a T20 international series at home against Kuwait, among other achievements.
“I would like to announce that the Qatar Cricket Association will be organising a T10 professional league competition towards the end of this year,” Qatar Cricket Association president Yousef Jeham al-Kuwari said, adding that the tentative dates will be around November-December.
“We already have the approval from the International Cricket Council (ICC). Our intention is to have around 4-6 teams, with as many as eight professional players from overseas, and of course three domestic players. It will be a great opportunity for Qatar players to play alongside and against some of these experienced international players, which in turn will help them and us to take the players to get to the next stage.”
Al-Kuwari also said that the Association had spoken to former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi to come on board as a brand ambassador and that the famous all-rounder, known around the world as one of the best hitters of the cricket ball, earning him the nickname Boom Boom Afridi, had agreed.
With the approvals and first few baby steps taken, al-Kuwari said the hard work to host a successful tournament will begin now.
“Frankly speaking, it will be challenging. The first season especially will be difficult and not everything will be smooth running but this is the time to build trust among all stakeholders for the future,” he said.
“We will also have to work hard to ensure television coverage, sponsorships etc. It is a very promising opportunity and a good step forward. Sport, in general, has a good base in Qatar and now cricket will also be stepping up. The government is still interested in cricket for Qatar. After all it is one of the most popular sports here, and it shall be a great event for the players, fans to enjoy.”
Given the Qatar national team’s recent exploits, he said, “We have a lot of talent, not only in the national team, but also at under-19 and under-16 levels. The potential is huge but we need to facilitate and help them rise to the international level. For the new league, we would like to choose players with potential to play alongside the more experienced international names, because we also hope to build teams of the future.”
He added: “We need a lot of backing, our resources are limited, without help and assistance it will be difficult. Not just the Qatar Olympic Committee, but we are also looking for backing of major sponsors, TV channels like beIN Sports, Al Kass.”
Cricket has a “massive reach” among the population in Qatar, he said, and with some “great umpires, officials”, “a good ground” in Asian Town Cricket Stadium, and more importantly “a lot of passion among people here”, it is a “great opportunity”.
“Qatar is a sporting nation with great advantages, including infrastructure, experience to host big events, backing of the electronic media, the tournament will provide an all-round benefit,” al-Kuwari said.
Citing the recent World Cup which provided some thrilling cricket action, including in the final between New Zealand and hosts England, he said, “Cricket as a game is growing. The exciting World Cup games have only expanded the reach of the game across the world. It is an unpredictable sport. You could score 300 runs one day and not even 80 the next day, and you still have a big opportunity to win in either cases.
“In Qatar, cricket cuts across socio-economic lines, with everyone from a doctor to a construction worker playing the game, sometimes on their only day off irrespective of the weather outside.
“Parents from countries where cricket is big, like India and Pakistan, are more than happy to have their children play cricket besides studies, which is great. It’s all-round development and healthy.”
Talking about the longevity of the competition, he said, “To be honest a lot depends on the success of our first edition. To build trust with the ICC is not easy, but of course if we can do a great job with the first edition, there is no reason why they will not back us for future editions.
“Our priority is to make the event and the sport successful, which will also bring in the financial success. So we are focusing our energies.”
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