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  • South African legend lends star power to UAE’s first owned T20 franchise league as it seeks to build international following

South African legend, AB de Villiers, has been confirmed as the face of UAE T20x – the first international T20 league to be owned by the United Arab Emirates. The forthcoming festival of cricket, which promises to be unique in the diverse international player make-up of its franchises, will run from 19th December – 11th January in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Often referred to as Mr. 360 for his versatile batting style, de Villiers retired from international cricket earlier this year after a stunning career that spanned 14 years and established him as arguably the greatest white ball batsman of all time. He currently holds the world record for the fastest half-century (16 balls), century (31 balls) and 150 (64 balls) in ODIs, and is one of the few batsmen to top both Test and 50-over rankings at the same time. The South African joins the new league as a non-playing global ambassador, and will be looking to support UAE T20x by inspiring youngsters, interacting with the fans, and helping to promote cricket across the UAE and beyond.

AB de Villiers said, “T20 has always been a format I have loved, and around the world it has done a great job of growing interest in the sport. UAE T20x is a really exciting addition to the cricketing calendar, and its ambition to give more young, emerging cricketers, from around the world, the chance to play this format alongside some of the world’s best, is what really appealed to me. I’m delighted to be taking on this role as a T20x ambassador, particularly as it will be focused on helping to grow the game that I love in the UAE and around the world.”

AB’s announcement comes at a time when UAE T20x has recently secured consent from Cricket South Africa to select its players for the league, taking the total number of ICC Test Member nations involved to seven. They now include: England & Wales, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa. In addition, 12 ICC Associate Member nations have also shown their support for the launch of the new internationally-represented league.

UAE T20x will make its debut in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah with five new franchise teams vying for the inaugural title in a 22-match format to be played over 24 days. The five franchises will comprise a squad of 16 featuring six international star players, four emerging and junior players, three ICC Associate Member players, and three UAE national team players. No other T20 competition has been established with these developmental goals at their core, and no other event will showcase such a wide array of international talent.

Zayed Abbas, Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) Board Member and Official Spokesperson said: “Our intention is to build a new league that is here to stay, with innovation and fan engagement at its heart. To do this, we need to work with the very best, and this is certainly the case with AB de Villiers, who has an unparalleled track record when it comes to entertaining fans. His knowledge and expertise will be invaluable as we aim to leave a lasting legacy for the game. Cricket legends such as AB will also help this league promote the UAE as an international cricket hub, a producer of world-class cricket players and a major destination for prestigious cricketing events.”

UAE T20x has been carefully developed by the ECB with a clear long-term vision to be a commercially-sustainable, top-tier, festival of cricket that can help grow the sport throughout the UAE and beyond. As an ICC Associate Member, the ECB has put the growth and development of the sport at its heart, and a key aim of UAE T20x is to generate new income streams for UAE cricket over the coming years that can be reinvested directly into the grassroots of the game, into coaching, facilities and infrastructure. This new league, therefore, represents a critically-important venture for the growth of cricket in the UAE.

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