Dubai ready for veterans' battle in Masters Champions League
Dubai has been witness to many cricket rivalries in the past, but lovers of the sport are now bracing for an altogether new experience as retired players will battle it out here at the Masters Champions League (MCL) from Friday.
MCL, a Twenty20 tournament in its maiden avtaar, will have six teams and a total of 90 players (15 members per squad) who will battle it out for top honours over two weeks in matches spread across Dubai and Sharjah. All the international players are those "who have retired from all forms of cricket", the organisers told IANS.
The MCL has received a 10-year approval from the Emirates Cricket Board and has also been recognized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and has also been approved by the Emirates Cricket Union and the Federation of International Cricketers.
The teams who will vie for the title include the Sagittarius Strikers -- owned by Danube Group -- Libra Legends, Capricorn Commanders, Gemini Arabians, Virgo Super Kings and the Leo Lions.
Among the stars who are playing the tournament are former Indian captain Saurav Ganguly, Brad Hogg, Jacques Kallis, Virender Sehwag, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Saqib Ali, Graeme Smith, Brett Lee, Jonty Rhodes, Neil McKenzie, Murali Kartik, Malinga Bandara, Brian Lara, Heath Streak and Herschelle Gibbs.
Capricorn Commanders are led by former England international Paul Collingwood and other players include Michael Vaughan, Abdul Razzaq, Andrew Symonds and Chamara Silva. Adam Gilchrist is the captain of Sagittarius Strikers. Strikers vice-captain Daniel Vettori told IANS at a media interaction here that the veterans were "super excited" by the tournament and were looking forward to "playing once again to promote the true spirit of the game".
Sagittarius Strikers owner Anis Sajan said that since Danube were always a big time cricket followers, they now have their own team. "We have got a great bunch of proven match winners and this perfect combination which puts cricket fans all over the world behind us with all their love and support. We look forward to a great inaugural season of the MCL," he said.
Bret Lee, who is extremely popular with Indians, harbours similar sentiments. "Its good to play with old buddies and am sure Dubai is going to love every bit of this," the former Australian fast bowler told IANS in an informal chat.
Tahir, a cab driver from Pakistan, chuckles at the mention of the tournament and says that he was looking forward to it. Dubai seems to be in agreement!