When the T10 Cricket League was being planned a few months back, there was heavy criticism around it.
Some felt it was absurd to shorten T20 cricket further. When top international cricketers were asked about the format, they confessed they had no clue about how it would turn out to be since they had never played such a format.
Shaji-Ul Mulk, Chairman of the T10 Cricket League, who visualised this tournament, believed in its success despite being asked many pessimistic questions. Most felt it would turn out to be just a mere exhibition or a festival cricket tournament.
Some of the teams’ support staff confessed they had no clue of how to plan a victory. It was tougher for journalists because evaluating a team’s chances in ten overs wasn’t easy.
Maratha Arabians’ South African batsman Rilee Rossouw admitted that he would follow a ‘see-it, hit-it’ approach. England’s Alex Hales said that he may have to close his eyes and swing at the ball. Bowlers felt they would have no role to play and that the format would be totally a batsman’s game.
And just before the start, many felt that the tournament will be nothing but bang-bang cricket, while a few thought it to be a boom boom cricket version named after Shahid Afridi’s nickname.
But once the matches began, what unfolded put everyone’s doubt to rest.
Those who said it would be a batsmen’s tournament saw Pakhtoons captain Afridi win the match through a hat-trick. Soon it became clear that anyone who is able to execute his skills, be it bowling or batting, can turn a match winner. Those who had doubts about the players taking the matches seriously were stunned by their fighting spirit. This resulted in fans filling every seat at the Sharjah Stadium, and many were forced to leave due to lack of tickets despite over 18,000 being permitted into the ground.
Though matches went played past midnight, the enthusiasm to back their community teams got the fans to stay on. The drumbeats and dancers could hardly rest because every ball had something to offer and every time a dot ball was bowled there were cheers all around the ground.
Later, players like Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir admitted that T10 could help cricketers learn the grammar of T20 better. Batsmen too realised that this format can help sharpen their ability to pick the ball to be hit.
The UAE, which had stunned the world by bringing cricket to the desert in the 80s, staging the maximum number of one-dayers at Sharjah Stadium, and hosting Test matches as well has done it yet again by presenting to the world a format that may well be good enough for the Olympics. It’s good to remember that both, the 50-over and the T20 formats were snubbed before fans accepted it and made it popular.