Steven Smith and David Warner © Getty Images (File Photo)
Steven Smith and David Warner © Getty Images (File Photo)

The chief executive, Salman Sarwar Butt, of the new UAE T20 league backed by the Emirates Cricket Board, has reached out to Steven Smith and David Warner to sign for the league. Butt has expressed hope that the development agenda of the new league will help convince the two Australian players to give it a try.

“We are in contact with their agents. There is a positive indication but we need to wait and see,” Butt told AAP. “We’d love to have them on board. Steve and David are obviously great international players and well known around the world,” he added.

Earlier in the year, Smith and Warner were handed a one-year international ban by Cricket Australia (CA) for involvement in ball-tampering in a Test match in South Africa. They have served five months of the ban and have participated in the Global T20 League in Canada in the interim period. They are currently playing in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and will return next month to their country to play for Sydney clubs – Sutherland and Randwick-Petersham respectively.

There is a slight probability that Smith and Warner may not participate in the UAE T20 league as they are understood to be leaning towards staying home over the Christmas break. But things can change as Smith had earlier decided to skip the ongoing CPL; however, he then had a late change of heart because he was desperate for time in the middle.

UAE T20x will run from December 19 to January 11, overlapping with the Big Bash League (BBL). CA has barred Smith and Warner from taking part in the BBL.

Butt, who is a professional banker, helped successfully launch the Pakistan Super League two years back. He suggested that around 300 players have already registered with the new venture in UAE. According to the Emirates Cricket Board, the tournament will have 22 matches spread across 24 days with 13 overseas stars.

Most of the spots in the 16-man squads will be taken by young players from around the world plus talent from the UAE and other associate countries. These unheralded players will have a rare chance to rub shoulders with greats, and a shop window to showcase their talent to other T20 leagues.

“I’m pretty sure they (Smith and Warner) would love to play and contribute to the development of cricket,” Butt said. “Our league is unique because it helps the global development agenda. We already have access to some very exciting talent from more than 35 associate countries. We really hope Cricket Australia help us with our development agenda,” he added.

Butt said that UAE T20 league isn’t going to counter Big Bash League but it would want to make its own space. “We all love the Big Bash. We all look up to it and enjoy it. We don’t want to disrupt Big Bash players,” he said.