The second edition of Legends League Cricket is currently being played in India. After hosting matches in Kolkata, Lucknow, and Delhi, the action has now shifted to Cuttack. The crowd turnout has been really good at all the centres and it is safe to say that just like the first edition, the second is also destined for success. Ahead of the Legends League match between Bhilwara Kings and Gujarat Giants, the League’s co-founder and CEO, Raman Raheja spoke to NDTV on how he sees the success of the tournament and what is the roadmap ahead.
“More than me enjoying, the fans are loving it. The idea of you know, bringing it to India — which is the home of world cricket now, most of the audience comes from India and the sub-continent. The idea was to make it big and India obviously, helps bring that up. The audience loves it and when the audience loves it, the story of the product’s success really starts to show up. It is quality cricket happening so it is really good,” said Raheja.
It is important to note that in all the Legends League games so far, women umpires have held a key role and they continue to be the on-field officials. The League Co-founder explained why having women umpires was a conscious decision.
“In fact, this idea was used by us in the first edition as well where women empowerment has been one of our key initiatives. We want to bring unique ways of involving women in sports. It is about the match officials as well, they are equally good as men’s umpires. It is a good success that we have seen because one of the umpires who was working with us last season, she was from Hong Kong and when she went back home, she literally had a celebrity status where girls are coming up and asking how they can become umpires and host international matches, which is a very good story,” said Raheja.
The first edition of the tournament was played in Oman and it was a raging success. So, what made the organisers come to India?
“I would be lying if I said so (plans on hosting the second edition in India right from the very start). We had great success in Oman but we had a lot of fans for this event to be hosted in India. This is the 75th year of Indian independence and we felt as a league, we could support the celebrations by bringing the league to India. In the month of July we decided, if everything permits, we should be hosting it in India. And that’s exactly how the plan changed from Oman to India,” said Raheja.
Barkatullah Khan Stadium in Jodhpur would also be hosting the matches of the tournament after the Cuttack leg. The ground had last hosted an international match way back in 2002 — India vs West Indies. So, what made the organisers choose a stadium which has not hosted an international game for more than 20 years?
“We started from Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi, Cuttack and now we would go to Jodhpur. Jodhpur has not hosted any international match for the last 20 years. That is the one objective that we want to promote the game, especially in the regions, where there are huge followers but there is limited cricket happening there. International cricket may not be possible to take into smaller centres regularly so we decided to support and compliment the active cricket, and that is how Jodhpur was selected,” said Raheja.
Lastly, the League Co-Founder and CEO also spoke about how the league will just focus on bringing more legends on board, and how he does not wish to hamper the current cricket eco-system.
“Our business model is about players who have retired, we want to build an eco-system of those cricketers who do not get assignments like commentary or coaching but have done so much for the country or club cricket, those are the ones we want to rope in. Our business model revolves around that. It is about the entire ecosystem of the legends — be it umpires as well. We do not want to interfere with the current cricket system,” said Raheja.
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