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The first season of the UAE T20x League has been called off by organisers Emirates Cricket Board (ECB just weeks before it was scheduled to get underway. The ECB on Thursday announced that the decision had been taken after only two buyers were found for the five planned franchises by the board and its commercial partners, Opi Group.

“Whilst negotiations had been completed on two franchise teams and a further three were well advanced, it was felt that there was no longer sufficient time to close the sales process and to successfully deliver and promote a December event,” the ECB said in a statement.

“The decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in July to explore potential limitations on T20 cricket leagues and player participation in them, meant that investment into UAE T20x had to be curtailed throughout the summer in anticipation of a decision. This in turn impacted timings around commercial conversations with potential franchise buyers.”

The inaugural T20x League was due to start in December with international names such as Eoin Morgan, David Miller, Andre Russell, Shahid Afridi and Kumar Sangakkara as Icon Players. The league had already roped in South Africa’s AB de Villiers as the global ambassador for the tournament, which is aimed at developing cricket in the UAE.

It was to have five franchises, with 16 players per squad of which six would be international players from cricket’s 12-nation Test elite. Three were to be from the UAE, three from other non-Test countries and four more junior and emerging players from the Test teams. The top players were due to be recruited via auction on November 19 in Dubai, with a US$275,000 cap for bids.