New Cricket Oval Opened In Abu Dhabi In Advance Of IPL And T20 World Cup

With the United Arab Emirates preparing to host the relocated Indian Premier League and T20 World Cup later in the year, Abu Dhabi Cricket has advised that it has open its new 12,000-capacity Tolerance Oval stadium.

Located next to Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium, the new venue features floodlights and broadcast capabilities, along with five playing surfaces and is now awaiting International Cricket Council (ICC) accreditation ahead of the upcoming tournaments.

With Sheikh Zayed Stadium having been busier than usual since the resumption of cricket after the COVID-19 hiatus around the middle of last year – hosting 81 ICC-approved games in the last 11 months, including franchise T10s and T20s – Tolerance Oval is set to share the fixture load with the larger venue.

With Abu Dhabi hosting the 31 remaining matches of IPL 2021 season in September and October, and then sharing matches of the men’s T20 World Cup between 17th October and 14th November, ESPNcricinfo reports that the ICC accreditation will be a formality.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Abu Dhabi Cricket Chief Executive, Matt Boucher stated “if you speak to the best groundsmen in the world, they wouldn’t want more than five international matches on each of their surfaces.

“Our main stadium is now broadcast-ready for seven strips, and the Tolerance Oval is broadcast-ready as well with five strips. So, we have 12 broadcast-ready strips, that’s 60 games.

“Tolerance Oval is another international venue in the Emirates. It’s not a 20,000 to 25,000-capacity ground. We have modelled it on the English county grounds and the Hagley Oval (in Christchurch); we have grass banks around the perimeter, so 12,000 people at the most.”

At the moment, the United Arab Emirates has the three main international venues, including the Dubai and Sharjah stadia.

Boucher added “hopefully in six weeks’ time we will have the accreditation for that oval, and then it’s over to the decision-makers if they want to use it for any upcoming tournaments or whether we use it for practice”

The United Arab Emirates will step in to host the remainder of the IPL after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed that the tournament would not be played in its home country due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Last week, the UAE and Oman were confirmed as the new host countries of the ICC’s T20 World Cup after India was forced to withdraw hosting rights. The UAE’s matches will be played at Dubai International Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Stadium and the Sharjah Stadium, with the Tolerance Oval potentially set to be an extra venue.

Boucher concluded “I can’t speak on behalf of the ICC, but from our perspective, we wanted to increase our infrastructure. Our business was very different two years ago. We were hosting a lot of junior sport, junior football and junior rugby, in our outer ovals. We made a dedicated decision at the beginning of this year that we wanted all our cricket facilities to return to cricket and be fully focussed on cricket,” Boucher said. “So we have overhauled everything, and it should be ready by the end of August.

“It’s not with an event in mind, but for Abu Dhabi to offer a higher class of playing surfaces and dedicated cricket surfaces for the domestic community here and the international community too.”

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