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Abu Dhabi T10 may feature a version of Super Over for league games next season

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In just its third edition of its existence, it is fair to say the Abu Dhabi T10 is still a work in progress. As a result, there are still tweaks to be made, issues to be ironed out and a lot of trials to be carried out.

From being a four-day, round-robin format played out between six franchises in its inaugural edition, the tournament went from 13 matches to 29 the following season as it welcomed two new teams into the fold. That second season stretched the competition to 12 days and while the same structure was retained this year, it has found a ten-day slot in its new home in the UAE capital.

The Super League stage has remained in place, but with every team playing each other bar their opposite number in the other group (for example, Deccan Gladiators and Maratha Arabians avoided each other in the Super League stage having topped Group A and B respectively and so on), there is little jeopardy as the tournament moves into its second stage.

And this existing league structure is something Abu Dhabi T10 owner-cum-chairman Shaji ul Mulk says he and his team plan to address after Sunday’s final.

“It’s possible [that the tournament format changes],” Shaji told ESPNcricinfo. “Because we have eight teams, we could be doing seven games a team so that we have a full round-robin. That would probably need us to increase the duration by another two days.”

Delhi Bulls captain Eoin Morgan, who has been involved with the tournament since its inception, also sees the potential for adjustments. “There are a couple of things but I don’t have a solution for them yet,” Morgan said. “We’re only in our third year, things will continue to evolve, maybe even more teams still in a shorter space of time.”

The group stage has also become a topic for conversation over its lack of tie-breakers, such as a Super Over, to ensure results in every match. They are in place for the knockout matches that begin on Saturday but after two ties this year, their absence has been notable.

When you throw in Wednesday’s rain that produced one farce and two no results, the difference between shared points and full points is something that cannot be ignored. And while the rain cannot be helped, other things can be.

“We’ve seen two ties already and I think all coaches agree we need to see a result, whatever form that’s in whether it’s a Super Over or how that’s determined,” Team Abu Dhabi coach Trevor Bayliss, whose side was hit by both that abandonment and T10’s first-ever tie, told ESPNcricinfo. “A result in every match would be good for everyone involved, not just the players but obviously the fans and the viewers at home as well.”

Morgan, like Bayliss, knows the finality of a Super Over more than most after this year’s ODI World Cup final and he would rather a ten-over game had a conclusion. “If we played in a tied game and we ended up a point short the argument is: would you rather have a result than one point each and I’d always err on the side of having a result,” Morgan said.

Shaji puts the fast turnaround of games as a reason behind the lack of Super Overs until the qualifiers and final, his argument based on the fact that one of T10’s greatest USP is its 90-minute game-time. When you factor in slots on TV schedules and advertising space, it is no easy thing to balance.

“We will be looking at it from next season onwards,” Shaji said. “Now that we’ve had two ties, we will probably consider changing those playing conditions. We want something innovative like two bowlers, three balls each.”

One thing the Abu Dhabi T10 will be hoping to sustain is the strong crowds that have turned out so far. The UAE is a notoriously difficult place to pull in supporters despite a cricket-mad diaspora. To combat it this year, organisers invested in buses from across the emirates to provide transport for people that otherwise would have found it difficult to source.

The result has been remarkable as evidenced by Friday’s enormous crowd-swell, and Morgan hopes that, in future, the showpiece events are scheduled to tie-in with what is a non-working day for the majority of the country.

“You look at the crowd today given that it’s the weekend here and that’s fantastic to see. Probably one of the things would be having the final on a weekend [Friday or Saturday] as opposed to [Sunday]. But it’s still great to see crowds like that today.”



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Covid-19: PCB offers financial support to 25 unemployed Pakistan women cricketers

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To fight with the economic challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic, the PCB has announced a three-month financial support package for 25 unemployed national women cricketers. Under this scheme, the players who meet the eligibility criteria such as featuring in the 2019-20 domestic season, and are presently without a contract for the 2020-21 season as well as a day job or business, will receive a monthly stipend of PKR 25,000 (approx US$150) each from August to October.

In June, the PCB had announced a list of women’s contracted players, which included nine centrally contracted cricketers and as many emerging contracted players. These are 12-month contracts, which commenced on July 1. The latest PCB decision takes the count of women cricketers receiving PCB support to 43.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a halt to all women cricketing activities worldwide. This has adversely affected our women cricketers, some of whom are the sole breadwinners of their families,” Urooj Mumtaz Khan, the head of the PCB women’s wing, said in a statement issued by the board.

“As the women’s game is making steady progress, it was imperative that the PCB came up with this scheme to not only protect and support our players but to also make them understand and realise that the PCB values them and will look after them in difficult times.

“Forty-eight players featured in the 2019-20 national domestic season out of which 25 became eligible to benefit from the scheme. The remaining players are either contracted by the PCB or employed elsewhere.”

In May, the PCB had offered one-time support to 161 stakeholders through an identical scheme, including former men’s first-class cricketers, match officials, scorers and curators.



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Anjum Chopra wants BCCI to be ‘more specific in communication about women’s cricket’

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Anjum Chopra, the former India women’s captain and current television commentator, believes that the BCCI has a plan for women’s cricket but wants the board to communicate its ideas more clearly.

Speaking to PTI, Chopra said: “It’s not that the BCCI is not thinking about women’s cricket. I only think they need to be more specific in communication about women’s cricket.

“I firmly believe that they must be thinking about women’s cricket but the communication all this while has been very specific to men’s cricket.”

The BCCI has received criticism of withdrawing the women from a tour of England in September, owing to logistical issues arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Then there is the question of the Women’s T20 Challenge clashing with the WBBL.

Chopra said missing out on the England tour is “not nice” but Indian players’ participation in the T20 Challenge will still be useful preparation for next year’s ODI World Cup.

“It is heartening to see women’s cricket making headlines,” Chopra said. “They should have been a part of that England tour and it did not feel nice initially but the women’s IPL [T20 Challenge], irrespective of the format, will be helpful for World Cup preparations. Any form of cricket is good preparation.

“Missing out on a tournament is not nice, but logistically there may have been issues. And you can’t send an under-prepared team.

“If you see it in isolation, we may have missed out on an opportunity to play in England. The more the girls play the better it is, before playing a tournament of the stature of World Cup. [But] the assurance from the president [Sourav Ganguly] is a very good thing.”

ALSO READ: The issues facing India women’s cricket in the face of Covid-19

Chopra welcomed the decision to hold the women’s event in the UAE alongside the IPL, which will run from September 19 to November 10. The women’s T20 Challenge will coincide with the knockouts of the men’s league.

“I am definitely happy, it’s always nice to be part of any cricket anywhere across the world,” Chopra said. “They should have been nearing the final stages of the preparation for the World Cup by now, but because of the pandemic things did not go as planned.”



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Tournament hubs, Afghanistan Test and Boxing Day: where does the Australia summer stand?

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Having hoped that the 2020-21 Australian cricket season would escape the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it now looks likely the summer will be significantly impacted as a second wave hits Melbourne with concerns also hanging over New South Wales leading to extensive border and travel restrictions around the country. A lot remains up in the air with the season less than two months away, but these are some of the key issues that need to be resolved.

State cricket

In some ways, this is the biggest headache for Cricket Australia given the logistical challenges of competitions that are vital to the game’s ecosystem but do not generate revenue. Particularly problematic is how to formulate a Sheffield Shield – the ten-game season and final can’t be cut back without agreement with the Australian Cricketers’ Association as it’s part of the MoU – amid travel and border restrictions.

The hub concept is tougher and much costlier for a first-class competition but a whole range of scenarios remain on the table. A News Corp report said starting the tournament earlier and rushing through a set of matches ahead of the Test summer was one idea, to ensure players had a chance to prepare or push for selection, while at the other end there is the possibility of limited Shield cricket before Christmas with the season then back-filled after the BBL.

The men’s and women’s one-day competitions – the Marsh Cup and WNCL – would appear vulnerable at the moment although players have made it clear they are open to the idea of hubs. The WNCL is especially important this year if the Women’s ODI World Cup goes ahead as played next February and March in New Zealand.

Afghanistan Test

The international fixtures that had been scheduled early in the season have steadily dropped away with series against Zimbabwe and West Indies postponed. The T20Is against India scheduled for mid-October also won’t take place now the T20 World Cup has been moved and the IPL has its window. The next big question for CA is the one-off Test against Afghanistan slated for Perth on November 21 which they remain committed to staging.

However, the time frame created by the IPL and the need for players to quarantine for two weeks on return to Australia is very tight, especially for anyone featuring in the closing stages of the competition, unless those in contention for the Test from both sides leave the UAE early to allow 14 days in Perth ahead of the match. Even if that was possible there would need to be exemptions granted to allow players to train although with hotels very close to the grounds this could be feasible.

WBBL

This will be the first of the marquee competitions to be staged in the season with the tournament due to begin on October 17 but is likely to need some reorganisation. When the fixtures were announced, the competition had already headed towards a hub model with a three-week block of matches in Sydney, and weekend blocks of matches elsewhere, but with New South Wales at a crucial stage of trying to limit their Covid-19 numbers – and significant restrictions around travel into the state – it could be that Queensland or Western Australia become the major centres with Tasmania also putting their hat in the ring to host a hub.

There remains confidence that the overseas players will be able to take up their deals as planned although a potential curveball has been thrown by the BCCI’s announcement of the T20 Challenge in early November which came in for strong criticism from a number of players led by Alyssa Healy.

BBL

There is a little more time up Cricket Australia’s sleeve for the Big Bash, but with the tenth edition to be the longest tournament – running from early December to early February – it could be hugely demanding if Covid-19 restrictions remain. Unlike the WBBL, the initial fixtures featured the full home-and-away model which involves regular travel and, even in the extended tournament, quick turnarounds between matches which would not be possible under the current quarantine requirements imposed by the various states.

The need to hub the competition will have to be considered as well as the flexibility to change mid-tournament if Covid-19 cases spike in a state. If there arises a need to reschedule or move matches in the BBL, it will add another layer of complexity given it runs concurrently with the major part of the men’s international season.

India tour

This remains the crucial part of Australia’s season with A$300 million – the financial health of the game – riding on it taking place. The chances of a traditional Test series across four venues appears to be receding with the Boxing Day Test at the MCG looking under threat. To ease the biosecurity protocols that will be needed – and state-by-state requirements to quarantine – it could be that the matches are staged in fewer locations while there is likely to be consideration given to what size crowds are allowed. Fans have returned to stadiums for winter codes in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales amid various restrictions on capacity.

The Adelaide Oval will have its on-site hotel completed by October and has already been talked of as a training hub while Perth, who missed on hosting India in the initial fixture list, may yet be part of the series. Following the Tests there is a three-match ODI series pencilled in for mid-January which currently has games in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

The India Women’s team is also due to tour in January for three ODIs which are due to act as a lead-in to the ODI World Cup in February.



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