ILT20: Players to watch in UAE T20 league

The inaugural ILT20 features several marquee players, with all the action from the UAE exclusively live on BT Sport.

By Tim Williams Published: 9 January 2023 - 10.18am
Joe Root, Rehan Ahmed and Will Smeed
Joe Root, Rehan Ahmed and Will Smeed are all set to play in the ILT20

BT Sport will show exclusive live coverage of the inaugural edition of the ILT20.

The league, which begins in Dubai on Friday, features several England stars and a number of high-profile international players.

Here are eight players to watch out for in the new competition.

BT Sport Monthly Pass

Join the home of live sport for just £29.99 per month. Get instant access to the BT Sport app, with no contract and no BT broadband required.

Joe Root

Former England Test captain Root has signed for the Dubai Capitals in what will be his second-ever foray into an overseas T20 franchise league.

He has been rested for England’s upcoming ODI tour of South Africa and still hopes to return to the T20 set-up despite not playing an international in the format since 2019.

He will have more opportunities to stake a claim after relinquishing the Test captaincy, including in the IPL where he will play for Rajasthan Royals.

The 32-year-old averages 35.72 in 32 T20 internationals with a high score of 90 not out and strike rate of 126.

Joe Root
Root last played in an overseas T20 competition in 2018-19

Rehan Ahmed

England’s spin sensation Ahmed will represent Andy Flower's Gulf Giants after his remarkable exploits in Pakistan.

The leg-spinner was the youngest ever men’s Test debutant at 18, taking five wickets in a magical spell in Karachi to help England complete a historic series whitewash.

He has been left out of the tour of New Zealand with the expectation that conditions are unlikely to require a second spinner with Jack Leach still first choice.

Ahmed could return to the England set-up in Bangladesh in March, but the prodigious talent will be looking to continue his momentum in the UAE before then.

Rehan Ahmed
Ahmed will play for Gulf Giants after his historic England Test debut

Will Smeed

History-maker Smeed bludgeoned the first century in The Hundred last summer and the 21-year-old Somerset batter will be looking to make an impression in the ILT20.

The precocious batter has never played a first-class game and has elected to focus on the shortest format, signing a white-ball only contract with his county.

Keenly aware of his potential, England called him up to the Lions squad for a tour of Bangladesh in 2019 and he recently played for Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League.

Smeed’s development continues with MI Emirates alongside a host of global stars including Kieron Pollard, Trent Boult and Imran Tahir.

Will Smeed
Smeed gave up first-class cricket to focus solely on the white-ball game

Trent Boult

Boult recently opted out of his New Zealand contract to play in more domestic leagues around the world and he will also represent MI Emirates in the ILT20.

The 33-year-old bowler is one of the finest exponents with the white ball and is currently top of the one-day international bowling rankings.

He has been a regular in the IPL and has played 55 T20 internationals for New Zealand, taking 74 wickets at 22.25.

His inclusion is a major bonus for the fledgling league as the legendary bowler begins the next phase of his career focussing on the shorter formats.

Trent Boult
Boult requested to be released from his New Zealand contract

Chris Lynn

Chris Lynn, the leading run-scorer in the history of the Big Bash League, will link up with Gulf Giants from Friday 20 January.

The explosive Australian batter signed a deal to join the UAE league midway through the competition from Adelaide Strikers.

He enjoyed a successful stint with Northamptonshire in the T20 Blast last summer and has scored more than 3000 runs in the BBL and is the leading six-hitter with 191.

Lynn has made 18 appearances for Australia in T20s and has played in various franchise leagues worldwide.

Chris Lynn
Big Bash legend Lynn will represent Gulf Giants

Sunil Narine

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders captain Sunil Narine is another marquee player in the inaugural competition.

The West Indies mystery spinner has been a mainstay for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and has forged a reputation as one of the pre-eminent white-ball bowlers in the world.

The 34-year-old also played for Oval Invincibles in The Hundred and has taken 52 wickets for his country in 51 T20 internationals.

He played a major role for the West Indies in their successful 2012 World Cup campaign and can bat anywhere in the top order.

Sunil Narine
Narine is one of the most high-profile mystery spinners in the world

Shimron Hetmyer

Stylish West Indian batter Shimron Hetmyer is another big-name signing for Gulf Giants.

Once the most expensive specialist batter in IPL auction history, Hetmyer was axed from the West Indies squad for their disastrous World Cup campaign last year after missing a flight to Australia.

The left-hander remains one of the most coveted batters for franchises around the world and has played 156 T20 matches, scoring one hundred and 15 half-centuries.

Shimron Hetmyer
West Indian Hetmyer is known for his attacking strokeplay

Mujeeb Ur Rahman

World-class mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is a star attraction for Dubai Capitals, with the Afghan superstar coming off an impressive spell in the Big Bash.

The 21-year-old is playing for Melbourne Renegades after four seasons with Brisbane Heat, where he took 37 wickets in as many matches.

He is a seasoned T20 player despite his age and has played 36 T20 internationals for Afghanistan, taking 49 wickets at an economy rate of 6.22.

Mujeeb will play with England’s Root, Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara in the competition.

Mujeeb ur Rahman
Afghan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman has been playing in the Big Bash for Melbourne Renegades