Saudi Arabia is planning to set up the world’s richest Twenty20 cricket league and has already held talks with Indian Premier League (IPL) owners, according to a media report on Friday (April 14).
The news comes amid the ongoing IPL 2023 and with the Saudi Arabian government being one of the sponsors of the league this year. Players who hit the ‘longest six’ in IPL 2023 matches receive the ‘Visit Saudi Beyond The Boundaries Longest 6’ award of Rs 1 lakh.
Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper’s report said Saudi Arabian government representatives have held talks with IPL owners to hold the world’s richest T20 tournament in the Gulf state.
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Senior cricket administrators, coaches and players from several countries said they were aware of informal discussions dating back more than a year, but most asked not to be named due to their private nature, the report added.
Further, it stated that discussions were held to allow Indian players to participate in the proposed tournament.
As of now, the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) does not allow its players to participate in foreign T20 leagues.
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The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) chair Greg Barclay confirmed Saudi Arabian interest in adding cricket to its string of recent sporting investments. He described the prospect as a “logical” next development for cricket in the region, as per the report.
“If you look at other sports they’ve been involved in, cricket is something I imagine would be attractive to them,” he said.
“Given their advance into sport more generally, cricket would work quite well for Saudi Arabia. They’re pretty keen to invest in sport, and given their regional presence, cricket would seem a pretty obvious one to pursue,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
Last month, Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation chairman Prince Saud bin Mishal Al-Saud told Arab News that the aim is to make Saudi Arabia “a global cricketing destination”.
“Our aim is to create a sustainable industry for locals and expats living in the Kingdom and make Saudi Arabia a global cricketing destination,” he said.