Legends excited at renewing cricket rivalry in Gulf


Former cricket greats Brian Lara of the West Indies, Australia’s Adam Gilchrist, Pakistan’s Wasim Akram and India’s Virendar Sehwag on Monday showed excitement at renewing their rivalry in a Twenty20 league next year.

The Masters Champions League (MCL), the first of its kind in the United Arab Emirates, is aimed at giving retired players a chance to take the field again.

Lara said he was excited at the prospect.

“I am thrilled and honoured to be taking part in what promises to be an exceptional display of competitive cricket. The UAE is a great location for a tournament, with a big fan base in the country,” said Lara, who holds the records for the highest Test score of 400 not out and an unbeaten 501 in first class.

Sehwag said the league would give the retired players a chance to renew their rivalries.

“It’s so exciting. It will be great to renew the rivalries,” said Sehwag, part of the Indian team which won the 2011 World Cup.

“It’s good to have all of us playing this tournament. The facilities in the UAE have always been world class. I think it’s great for cricket to show what we can offer to develop the sport at the grassroots.”

Ashes-winning England captain Michael Vaughan, popular former South African captain Graeme Smith, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, recently retitred Sri Lankan duo of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, and former Pakistani all-rounder Azhar Mahmood are also among those who have signed up for the league.

League chairman Zafar Shah hoped the league would give fans another chance to see the greats.

“The Masters Champions League is going to be every cricket lover’s dream come true. It’s a tournament, which will boast extraordinary players of impeccable class and history and give fans another chance to see the greats of the recent past,” said Shah.

The tournament will be formed of six teams in its first year, with a total of 90 players taking part.

The matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.