It all started with T20 matches in England (Which almost seems hard to believe!) but it’s in other traditional cricketing hotbeds that T20 cricket has thrived. Namely in India (IPL) and Australia (BBL) as well as Pakistan (PSL) and the West Indies (CPL).
Beyond those regions countries such as Hong Kong and Canada have also produced T20 leagues that have attracted the world’s premier short format players. Some of these leagues haven’t necessarily had full status or lasted the course however.
But where will the next breakout T20 league be? USA and even Europe as a whole (Well… Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands) are certainly trying. Beyond that though, where could we see T20 freelancers flocking to next?
My prediction is… Qatar!
Of course Qatar are soon to host a football (Soccer) World Cup and they seem to be putting some energy into cricket too…
The Arab nation are up to 22nd in the men’s T20I rankings having usurped the likes of Kenya, Bermuda and USA, all teams that have played at major tournaments.
One thing that Qatar isn’t short of is clout… or money! Creating the infrastructure, ie: fancy stadiums and fancily named financially backed franchises would be no problem for the wealthy personnel that reside in Qatar.
It was in capital city Doha that cricket began in the country and its been simmering under the surface for a while. The nature of modern society and cricket itself really could see T20 cricket explode on the Persian Gulf. Presumably the dry pitches would favour spin but I’m sure that the knowledge and technology exists for organisers to maintain decent playing surfaces regardless.
Qatar gets a bad rap for its treatment of workers but doesn’t every non-white country that’s building World Cup stadiums? It’s easy for a reporter to take a photo of a worker having a break on a hot day and portray it as mistreatment. That said, if thirty four people have died building football stadiums then there’s clearly cause for concern. We wouldn’t want anymore deaths just to lay the foundations of cricket.
The average summer temperature in Qatar is between 35 and 45 degrees so games may primarily have to be day/night affairs. I can’t claim to be an expert on Qatari dew!
The population of Qatar is sub 3 million. I’ve read conflicting figures but most of the countries people live in or around Doha. I should probably point out that Qatar is only around a third of the size of Belgium.
How the football World Cup plays out could effect sentiment for future opportunities such as a bristling T20 cricket league in Qatar. Anyway, that’s my prediction for the location of the next T20 franchise league… The Qatar Premier League or Doha Sixfest maybe?!
What are your thoughts? Where will cricket thrive next?
Edit: It later came to my attention that Qatar has had a T10 league though unfortunately there were some fixing concerns!