Legends Adam Gilchrist, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis and Wasim Akram are set to headline an annual Masters Champions League (MCL) Twenty20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates beginning next February.

 

The series was launched in Dubai last night, with the aforementioned retired foursome all named ‘icon’ players as organisers announced a six-team event across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

 

Participating players must be retired from international cricket, with up to 90 former stars (15 per squad) expected to turn out for the two-week event.

 

Test legends Allan Border and Graham Gooch are members of the MCL’s Governing Council and were also present at the unveiling, while Dean Jones is involved in the event management of the tournament through Major Events Group, who are signed on to co-organise proceedings with GM Sports.

 

“This iconic tournament will be organised and played in the UAE for the next 10 years,” said Jones, referring to the 10-year deal with the Emirates Cricket Board.

 

“Based on the T20 format, this will bring together some the greatest iconic names that the game has ever seen.”

 

Lara, who played his last international in 2007 but never played the T20 format for the West Indies, said he was looking forward to the event.

 

“I am thrilled and honoured to be taking part in what promises to be an exceptional display of competitive cricket,” he said. “I hope people get behind the MCL and support some of the heroes of the game as they look to extend their careers a little longer.”

 

MCL chairman Zafar Shah was optimistic about the scale and immediate success of the tournament.

 

“It will allow fans to consistently watch quality and entertaining cricket involving some of the legends of the game,” Shah said. “Our ultimate vision is for the MCL to become the natural next step for all international players retiring from the professional game to extend their careers in a masters league.”

 

Meanwhile, Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar yesterday met with ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson to discuss their proposed Legends T20 Cricket League, which they are aiming to hold in the US in August-September.

 

Last month, a host of retired superstars – among them Brett Lee, Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Flintoff and Michael Vaughan, as well as Gilchrist and Kallis – were linked with the tournament, which reports suggested would net them US$25,000 per match across 15 matches during a three-and-a-half year period.