Acting CEO Boucher wants to bring PSL matches to attract crowd (Photo: N.D. Prashant/Gulf News)
Matthew James Boucher, the acting CEO of cricket appointed by Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), hopes to rebrand the game in the capital.
A new logo has been created called ‘Abu Dhabi Cricket’ with the focus on developing the landscape around the Shaikh Zayed Cricket Stadium into a multi-sports venue.
“One of the great things about Abu Dhabi is that we are always looking to enhance our facilities here. We will be having floodlights for both Oval grounds, new academy with new nets. These are small things, but it will all count when we are fully launched in September. We want it to be a community hub,” said Boucher, who has been with the ADSC for the past nine years and is actively involved in overseeing Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. With this move, ADSC has dismantled Abu Dhabi Cricket Club completely and have focused on branding cricket in a new way in the capital.
“As a sports council body, we are already involved in a number of clubs and societies in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and with the permission of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, in March we received executive approval for the Abu Dhabi Cricket Club to be integrated into the ADSC,” said Boucher, who felt the name-change to Abu Dhabi Cricket with a new logo to make it a ‘snappier brand’ could help them promote the facility better.
“I think you see it across the world, like Cricket Australia and you see how everyone is branding themselves really well. Even some of the Pakistan Super League teams were very well-branded. I think again with that marketing and promotion head on, we want cricket to be more consumable in Abu Dhabi,” said Boucher, whose role will also be to make sure the venue turns into a money spinner and there is more community involvement. Hence, the academy will also emphasise on junior football, rugby and women sport.
“Revenue generation from partners and sponsors hasn’t been maximised in the past, so currently we don’t have a sponsor here, we don’t have a sponsorship roster. The academy is fantastic, but has focused on Indian market which is natural for Abu Dhabi. I think there are a lot of western expats out there that haven’t been tapped and we all see that as a massive growth area for the academy.
“Again by the end of the year, that will be a very different-looking academy, but always retaining the under-13 under-15, under-18 elite level which is very strong internationally,” said Boucher, who along with his team at ADSC will decide the role they want in future from Abu Dhabi Cricket Council, who are in-charge of conducting tournaments in the capital. For now, the council has been retained and will go on with their day-to-day operations as before.
“The Abu Dhabi Cricket Council has now been integrated into the management and the running of the club such as IT support, marketing support, social media support and so on. As far as a merger is concerned, we will move forward with all our discussions. We will have a look at that but currently they are standing as ADCC,” said Boucher.
Abu Dhabi, for the past two seasons, have missed on cashing on Pakistan Cricket Board’s new baby — Pakistan Super League (PSL) and Boucher was open to talks with the PCB to bring matches of the T20 league in the capital.
“PSL is fantastic. It has got a great media value, it’s perfect for the Abu Dhabi resident population and we are open to have a conversation with PCB. Currently, we have a strong relationship with Sussex, England and that has worked very well. We like the idea of sharing knowledge and going to the best in the world and learning from them.
“Cricket in Abu Dhabi is still young and we are looking at other relationships, probably by the turn of the year and in time for the second season. I think we are very keen to promote the overseas tours,” revealed Boucher.
N. D. Prashant