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. Audience attendance was very good in all centers and it is safe to say that 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 about how he sees the success of the tournament and what the roadmap is for the future.
“More than I enjoy it, the fans love it. The idea of bringing it to India – which is now the home of world cricket, most of the audience is from India and the subcontinent. The idea was to create it’s big and India of course helps bring that out the audience loves it and when the audience loves it the story of the success of the product really starts to show it’s quality cricket that takes place so it’s really good, said Raheja.
It is important to note that in all Legends League matches to date, female umpires have played a key role and are still the umpires on the field. The League co-founder explained why it was a conscious decision to have female umpires.
“In fact, this idea was also used by us in the first edition, where women’s empowerment was one of our main initiatives. We want to offer unique ways to involve women in sport. It’s also about the match officials, they are as good as mens referees it’s a good success we’ve seen because one of the referees who worked with us last season was from hong kong and when she went back home she literally had celebrity status where girls come and ask how to referee and be able to host international competitions, which is a very good story,” said Raheja.
The first edition of the tournament was played in Oman and was a resounding success. So, why did the organizers come to India?
“I’d be lying if I said that (planned to host the second edition in India from the start). We had a lot of success in Oman, but we had a lot of fans for this event that was to be hosted in India. This is the 75 years of Indian independence and we felt like a competition, we could support the celebrations by bringing the competition to India. In the month of July, we decided, if everything permits, we should hold it in India. And that’s exactly how the plan changed from Oman to India,” said Raheja.
Barkatullah Khan Stadium in Jodhpur would also host the matches of the tournament after the Cuttack stage. The ground last hosted an international match in 2002 — India vs West Indies. So, why did the organizers choose a stadium that hasn’t hosted an international match for over 20 years?
“We started from Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi, Cuttack and now we would go to Jodhpur. Jodhpur has not organized an international competition in the last 20 years. That is the only goal we want to promote, especially in the regions, where there are huge followers but little cricket takes place there. International cricket may not be able to go to smaller centers on a regular basis, so we decided to support and compliment active cricket, which is how Jodhpur was selected,” said Raheja.
Finally, the League co-founder and CEO also spoke about how the league will focus on bringing in more legends and how he doesn’t want to hinder the current cricket ecosystem.
“Our business model is about players who are retired, we want to build an ecosystem of those cricketers who don’t get assignments like commentary or coaching but have done so much for the country or the club cricket, those are the ones we want that’s what our business model revolves around. It’s about the whole ecosystem of legends – whether it be referees, we don’t want to disrupt the current cricket system,” said Raheja.
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