Abu Dhabi opens up Tolerance Oval ahead of busy schedule

Abu Dhabi Cricket has opened up the 12,000-capacity Tolerance Oval stadium as the United Arab Emirates prepares to host the relocated Indian Premier League and T20 World Cup later in the year.

The opening of the new stadium will look to ease the burden placed on Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium (pictured), which will host matches during the IPL and the T20 World Cup in the coming months.

The Tolerance Oval feature floodlights and broadcast capabilities, along with five playing surfaces. The venue has not yet secured International Cricket Council (ICC) accreditation, but ESPNcricinfo reports that this will be a formality.

Matt Boucher, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Cricket, told ESPNcricinfo: “If you speak to the best groundsmen in the world, they wouldn’t want more than five international matches on each of their surfaces. Our main stadium is now broadcast-ready for seven strips, and the Tolerance Oval is broadcast-ready as well with five strips. So we have 12 broadcast-ready strips, that’s 60 games.

“Tolerance Oval is another international venue in the Emirates. It’s not a 20,000 to 25,000-capacity ground. We have modelled it on the English county grounds and the Hagley Oval (in Christchurch); we have grass banks around the perimeter, so 12,000 people at the most.”

The UAE will step in to host the remainder of the IPL in September and October after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed that the tournament would not be played in its home country due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

The tournament was postponed in early May after a number of players tested positive for COVID-19, with 31 matches still outstanding. The UAE also hosted the IPL last year due to the COVID-19 situation in India at the time.

Last week, the UAE and Oman were confirmed as the new host countries of the ICC’s T20 World Cup after India was forced to withdraw hosting rights. The UAE’s matches will be played at Dubai International Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Stadium and the Sharjah Stadium, and the Tolerance Oval could now step in as an extra venue.

Boucher added: “Hopefully in six weeks’ time we will have the accreditation for that oval, and then it’s over to the decision-makers if they want to use it for any upcoming tournaments or whether we use it for practice.”

The T20 World Cup will be held from October 17 to November 14 as originally planned.

Image: Rizwan Ullah Wazir/CC BY 3.0/Edited for size