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Tue 8 Jan 2019 11:10 AM

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UAE could have a world-leading cricket team, says billionaire sports league boss

The UAE is currently 14th in the world in the world's second most popular sport by fan numbers worldwide

UAE could have a world-leading cricket team, says billionaire sports league boss

A team from the Gulf region that ranks among the best in one of the most popular sports around the world?

It might seem like a pipe dream but could become more than likely if you look at where the UAE stands among teams that play cricket, according to UAE T10 league chairman, Shaji Ul Mulk.

“The UAE is currently 14th in the world among teams that play cricket. Once you crack the top 10 is when everything changes. The money starts flowing in and the world starts paying attention,” he told Arabian Business in an interview last week.

Mulk is a former cricketer and was named in the squad that took part in the 1992 Cricket World Cup in Australia.

However, he opted not to go in favour of pursuing a business deal for his company Alubond USA that would eventually make him a billionaire supplying the aluminium claddings found commonly on Dubai’s tallest skyscrapers.

Mulk is also the founder and chairman of the UAE T10 league.

The 90-minute version of a game notorious for its length at Test level, the Dubai-based league presents a digestible version of a sport rich in appeal for the technically inclined and has attracted celebrities and professionals alike, including current England captain Eoin Morgan and Pakistani pace legend Wasim Akram.

The game also draws on local talent residing in the UAE to form the backbone of its franchised teams, something that Mulk says will have a huge impact on how the game continues to be adopted in the country.

The UAE has previously qualified for three cricket World Cups: in 1996 and 2015 and in the T20 World Cup in 2014.

The country currently hosts a number of cricket tournaments and is the de facto home country for the Pakistani national team. It is also being considered as a venue for the 2020 Asia Cup.

“With so much cricket in the country, more talent is being drawn to it. The country will soon have a team in every format of the game, and it’s very possible that it could improve it’s ranking,” said Mulk.