Afghanistan to launch their own franchise-based T20 league in October 2018
What's the story?
Afghanistan have now joined a band of other countries in organising a franchise-based T20 league of its own. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has slotted the schedule of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) for October 2018.
"There will be a total of 23 matches between five teams," the ACB chief executive Shafiq Stanikzai told ESPNcricinfo. "The league will take place in the UAE, but we haven't yet decided on which cities will play host to the league. But now we have got official approval from the Emirates Cricket Board, and we'd like to thank them for that."
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Among the top nine cricketing nations, as of now, only England and South Africa don't have a T20 league of their own which is based on the format of auction and player pools.
While South Africa were all but ready to launch the Global T20 league in November 2017, a delay in finalising a television broadcast deal and the rights sponsorship for the event led to its postponement to November 2018. Meanwhile, England, the only missing piece of the puzzle, are set to start with their city-based T20 league in 2020.
The heart of the matter
Stanikzai further revealed that the upcoming tournament would comprise five teams, the purchase of which would be done in March, following which a draft for the players would be made. It has also been heard that nearly 40 foreign cricketers are willing to be a part of the latest T20 extravaganza.
"The APL T20 will be played on a broader scale both financially and coverage wise [as compared to the existing domestic T20 league in Afghanistan, the Shpageeza Cricket League]," Stanikzai said. "Our strategic objective is to bring this league into the top three T20 leagues in the world."
With the rampant success of T20 leagues across the world – the most notable names are the IPL and the BBL – it was inevitable that a rising cricketing nation like Afghanistan has also decided to be a part of the group of countries with such a competition.
What may have also prompted the ACB to pursue the concept may have been the recognition that players like Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi have gained from participating in the IPL and the BBL, with Rashid, at only 19 years of age, already attracting the attention of the cricketing fraternity rapidly.