After the joy of watching some of the greatest players to have ever stepped foot on the cricket pitch, such as Wasim Akram, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis in the Cricket All-Stars, fans will once again get the chance to do just that with the Masters Champions League.
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Zafar Shah, along with Sam Khan, who is the Chief Executive Director of the MCL, fans can once again see their favourite superstars in action, in the shortest format of the game.
The MCL Chief Executive Director was kind enough to take some time out and speak with Sportskeeda in a telephonic interview.
Below is the transcript of my chat with him:
Q. Your background is in film, what piqued your interest in cricket?
My father in law, Zafar Shah is the chairman of the Masters Champions League. It is his vision to start this masters league. We are working on this for the last three years. We got approved by the ECB (Emirates Cricket Board) and we are following all guidelines of ICC.
We are a huge fan of cricket, so we are not treating ourselves as organiser or as an owner, we are just portraying ourselves as a fan.
Q. In the previous interview with Sportskeeda, Zafar Shah said that there are some "very interesting innovations" in place but that you cannot reveal what they are. Can you reveal them now?
We are just waiting for a last formal confirmation from ICC on our cricket constitution. We have submitted and have the first draft approved, they have some changes and are just waiting for the second draft.
As a ball, we are looking at a pink ball and for that we have to take permission and we are just waiting for the last approval. After that I can tell you what the innovations are.Q. Did you know that Sehwag was going to retire? Because his name was announced as part of the MCL before he announced his retirement.
Our format says you can't play if you are not retired, so if someone is coming to announce his retirement that means he doesn't want to play international cricket. He announced his retirement on our platform on 19 October. His son’s birthday was on 19th, his was on 20th.
We had talks with him for a long time, he was just waiting for his 37th birthday and so we waited.Q. Are there any more players that have signed on since the last time that we got in touch?
We got some new players like Virender Sehwag, Ramesh Powar, Azhar Mahmood, Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith. Right now we have 260 players with us.Q. How do you think that the presence of a rival tournament like the Cricket All Stars affect the MCL?
That is going to help us because the players who are playing there are all playing with us. They (All-Stars) are also promoting cricket, they are also doing something good in USA, we also want to do something good in the UAE. We both are not rivals, we both are together, we are travelling in the same boat. We both are family, we both are lovers, we love cricket and that's why we are together.
The best part is that their matches just exhibition games, while ours is a proper league, so how can you compare the two things. Badminton and squash are both played with a racket, but they are different sports. They are doing exhibition match in USA and we are doing a proper league in UAE.
Q. Given 18 matches are to be played in the group stages in UAE, how do you think that will affect the players, especially given some of the are over 45?
When I talk to you about the constitution, you will understand. We are not going to harm anyone, we are taking care of that.
Q. How does this help the growth of cricket in UAE?
In the UAE, kids play cricket on the roads because they don't have infrastructure. If 260 players come to UAE, they are all going to support cricket here. That is why we have a compulsory rule that two players should be from associate nations, like Kenya, Scotland and Netherlands.
We are helping kids, that is why UAE have been helping us as they want the kids to be playing with these legends. We are doing camp for students. We are calling from the world's leading students, from Sehwag's school and Brett Lee's school and so many more.
Q. The recently concluded Pakistan vs England series was played out in front of almost empty stadiums, do you think attendance will be an issue for the MCL?
Not with us. If you go and watch T20, they are always packed. T20 is always huge. For the first time in UAE, these 260 players are going to come. Lara, Gilchrist, Akram, Sehwag, Kallis, Vettori, so many players, so it is a huge thing.
Q. How do you plan to stop corruption or betting ruining the image of the tournament?
That is the biggest thing we are taking care of. World's best anti-corruption is with us, even right now I am talking to you, they know what I am talking. Anti-corruption is very strong with us. we are taking all the necessary measures.Published 24 Nov 2015, 20:51 IST