Starting on Thursday, cricket fans worldwide are in for a unique treat, as the inaugural Masters Champions League 2020 begins in Dubai UAE. With six exciting teams, and held in the exuberant surroundings of Dubai and Sharjah, MCL 2020 promises to be a delightful mix of the ever evolving, flamboyance of T20 cricket, with the flavour of nostalgic class.
The Masters Champions League franchise is set to run for a number of years to come following a ten-year approval from the Emirates Cricket Board, and aims to bring together some of the most popular and record-breaking ex-international cricketers, and provide them with the opportunity to dust off their pads for an action packed, fun-filled two week festival of cricket.
The six teams involved will face off in a round-robin format, followed by semi-finals, and a final held in Dubai on February 13. The six teams involved take their names from signs of the zodiac and each squad will consist of 15 currently retired ex-international cricketers from 14 cricket playing nations.
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The commanders will be captained by one of England’s greatest all-rounders, T20 world cup winner and currently most capped ODI player to have worn the England shirt. Aged 39, Paul Collingwood hasn’t played international cricket since 2011, however was an integral part of Durham’s 2015 side.
Other stars to look out for are the likes of hard-hitting all-rounders Abdul Razzaq, and Andrew Symonds. Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan, who will get his first taste of T20 cricket. Jeetan Patel, a star of the English T20 blast tournament, will also be one to watch with the ball, having received a number of domestic accolades in the past couple of years, Including the highly acclaimed prize of Wisden cricketer of the year 2014.
Virender Sehwag will take charge of what could possibly be the most exciting team in this year’s MCL 2020. Sehwag remains one of the most feared opening batsmen in world cricket, and holds a number of international records, not least being one of only two cricketers to have scored an ODI double hundred and a test triple hundred. Sehwag will lead a host of recently retired international heroes such as Kumar Sangakkara and Brad Hodge, who between them have amassed almost 500 domestic and international T20 caps.
Other talents include the ever-popular Muttiah Muralitharan, who in his own right is a cricketing legend - holding the record for the most ever wickets taken in test cricket. The ever reliable and unique talent of West Indian Shiv Chanderpaul will also be a key component of the Arabians' batting order, whilst the little magician Saqlain Mushtaq will add some mystery to the bowling department.
Arguably the most scintillating and spectacular batsmen of our time Brian Lara will look to lead the Lions to success. Despite retiring from international cricket some eight years ago, Lara’s skill and fluency should be a mastery to behold. Lara remains the world record holder for the highest scores in all forms of domestic and international cricket, however, has only ever played three times in T20 cricket.
Joining Lara will be some of cricket’s favourite personalities in Darren Gough and Scott Styris, who will be sure to bring some comedy and cheer to the show. Other international stars include the ever boisterous South African batsmen Herschelle Gibbs, along with recently retired hard-hitting Kiwi James Franklin. At the tender age of 33, Fidel Edwards will be sure to add some calypso flavour to the bowling department.
The strikers will be led by one of the world’s greatest ever wicket-keeper batsmen, Adam Gilchrist. Aged 44, Gilchrist retired from international cricket in 2008, yet continued to thrill fans worldwide appearing in the IPL up until 2013. Gilchrist’s extravagant style of batting in all forms, gave him a fierce reputation which remains to this day, alongside his personality and love for the game making him a fan favourite across the globe.
Gilchrist will lead a host of veteran ODI performers, including two of the most impressive performers from the recent 2015 ODI World Cup, in Daniel Vettori and Mahela Jayawardene, who both announced their retirement following the tournament. The Strikers boast a formidable pace attack with Kiwi, Shane Bond and the West Indian jokester Tino Best, who will be sure to bring a smile to the faces of both fellow players and spectators alike.
The Libra Legends, will be captained by and Indian Icon, Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly, a legend across the sub-continent and across the cricket playing world, retired from internationals in 2008, Ganguly, like many of his fellow MCL compatriots, continued to ply his trade in the IPL up until 2012.
Ganguly will team up with an equally iconic name in the sport, in Jaques Kallis. Kallis will come into the MCL on the back of the recent 2015-16 Big Bash T20 campaign in Australia. Whilst Kallis made his name in Tests and ODI’s as one of the greatest all-rounders to ever play the game, he has amassed a total of 201 combined domestic and international T20 games, making him a force to be reckoned with, even at 40 years old. Graeme Swann will likely prove to be an entertaining addition to the Legends side, Whilst the likes of recently retired Ryan Ten Doeschate, and Sean Ervine will provide some skill and guile.
The Superkings will be led by yet another veteran ex-international captain in South African Graeme Smith.
Smith led South Africa in over 100 test matches and 100 ODI’s and is the most successful test captain of all time. Smith will be one of the youngest players in the MCL and the youngest captain of the six, aged just 34-year-old, and having only retired in 2014, Smith will hope to fresh and raring to led an exciting bunch of legendary performers. Amongst the Superkings ranks, is the highly acclaimed Pakistani batsmen Mohammed Yousuf.
In 2006 In 2006 Yousuf broke a number of records and to this day still holds the record for the most test runs scored in a calendar year. Aussie pair Brett Lee and Dirk Nannes will look to ramp up the pace in the bowling ranks, whilst the dynamic veteran wicket keeper of English domestic T20 cricket, James Foster will provide an experienced T20 playing platform for the side with over 150 T20 games under his belt.
With so much international cricketing experience, extravagance and enjoyment for the game, on show, the stars of the past, will well and truly, re-ignite and come to life under bright lights of Dubai - cricket’s newest world theatre on Thursday.