THE highly successful Zim Cyber City Zim Afro T10 league is scheduled to return during the warm summer in March as part of a raft of measures to be implemented for the second edition of the high octane cricket competition.
Arabian billionaire and owner of the T10 leagues around the world, Nawab Shaji Ul Mulk, in an exclusive interview with the Independent Sport said low temperatures in July had an impact on grounds accessibility, especially during the night matches.
Zimbabwe witnessed fast-paced 90-minute cricket games being played under floodlights for the first time and the spectacle was one to savour.
The trend continued yesterday with Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) hosting the last phase of the National Premier League T20 Blast, the eliminator and the qualifier under flood lights.
The final is scheduled for Saturday at Harare Sports Club.
"We are talking to the board (ZC) to have it earlier because winter was tough for people. We want to bring it to March and that’s what will be done," Mulk said.
The inaugural cricket spectacle attracted five privately owned franchises.
These were, Harare Hurricanes, co-owned by Indian billionaire Sir Sohan Roy and Bollywood icon Sanjay Dutt, Bulawayo Braves, Cape Town Samp Army, Joburg Buffaloes and Durban Qalandars, who emerged champions.
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International stars such as Yusuf Pathan, Robin Uthappa, Donovan Ferreira and Eoin Morgan trooped to Zimbabwe entertaining fans.
Arguably the fastest growing cricket league in the world, T10 reached 500 million views last year.
"I think change and progress is dynamic because the first season went on very successfully and what we see now is the bigger influx of better and a larger number of players to come in because nobody understood how successful this Zim Afro T10 cricket would be," Mulk said.
"A lot of top names in the world had less appreciation of Zimbabwe and now they have lots of respect that what we did is truly world class. Any number of requests now will be pre-signed for next year now; you will see a much higher standard."
Mulk, the founder and chairperson of the Mulk International Group, said the networking and marketing opportunities realised for destination Zimbabwe was immense.
"I think you need to understand the importance of T10. It went live in about 110 countries and almost about 300 million watched Zimbabwe as a destination of world class sport,” he said.
“I had personally built that tourist group of a very high network. I sounded billionaires around the world about Zimbabwe and then they were all surprised with the opportunities that they saw here.
"So, there’s now on-going investment potential happening in Zimbabwe. Everything you do with a world class product, it’s for the country and the people.
“We had a 10-day event where almost a thousand people were involved somehow in Zimbabwe so it’s all jobs. It is all income, revenue and spending. We spent about US$5 million in 10 days so that’s money spent in the country," Mulk added.
He is excited with the business outlook of the T10 league in Zimbabwe.
"Let’s put it this way. We got in with an investment plan of 10 years. It’s very normal for us to invest in the first two or three years," Mulk said.
"The first year when you invest, you probably expect maybe 30 to 40% back. We had better than that. The next year you are close to break even and the third year you either break even or you get a little plus."
The tournament gave a chance to some of the unheralded players in the country to rub shoulders with global stars.