DUBAI, UAE, June 3, 2015 /CNW/ - Some of cricket's greatest former international players are due to return to competitive action in a new and unique T20 tournament, which will be held annually across three stadiums in the United Arab Emirates.
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The Masters Champions League, MCL, will feature a franchise format. However, unlike the IPL or Big Bash, teams will not be based on geographic location, and instead will simply include the best possible players a franchise owner can put together from the qualifying player base.
The tournament will be made up of six teams in its first year, with a total of 90 players taking part - 15 members per squad. The players must all be retired from international cricket.
The MCL has been approved for an initial 10 year period by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), while the organiser and rights owner of the tournament, GM Sports, is also closely following the established guidelines set out by the game's governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The inaugural MCL matches are due to take place over two weeks in early February, 2016. They will be played in the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium and Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The tournament was launched at a ceremony on Wednesday held in Dubai. It was attended by former greats including West Indian cricketing legend Brian Lara, Australian icon Adam Gilchrist, and retired Pakistani fast bowling great Wasim Akram. South Africa's Jacques Kallis announced his involvement via a pre-recorded video message. Former England captain Graham Gooch and past Australian captain Allan Border, both members of the MCL governing council, were also present.
Speaking at the ceremony, Zafar Shah, MCL Chairman, said: "As with many other popular sports, there is a real desire amongst fans and cricketers, to see some of the game's retired icons back in serious competition. The MCL will be a unique and competitive annual T20 tournament offering exactly that. It will allow fans to consistently watch quality and entertaining cricket involving some of the legends of the game."
David East, CEO of the Emirates Cricket Board, was also present at the ceremony and commented: "The MCL is a fantastic idea, now being brought to life right here in the UAE, which is the perfect home for the tournament. The chance to watch proper, competitive action involving the greats of the game will inspire many and help to ensure UAE cricket continues to go from strength to strength. We are pleased to have given the MCL our extended approval and look forward to it getting underway next year."
Brian Lara, one of the iconic retired players who has signed up to join the MCL, added: "I am thrilled and honoured to be taking part in what promises to be an exceptional display of competitive cricket. I hope people get behind the MCL and support some of the heroes of the game as they look to extend their careers a little longer. The organisers have ensured giving back is a major theme, alongside inspiring cricket in the Middle East and leaving a lasting legacy."
The MCL official website can be found at: http://www.mcl2020.com
SOURCE Grand Midwest Sports