‘Our doors are open for Dhoni’: LLC CEO is also in ‘conversation’ with De Villiers

‘Our doors are open for Dhoni’: LLC CEO is also in ‘conversation’ with De Villiers

Surat, December 10 (IANS): Legends League Cricket (LLC) in the last few years has become a favorite tournament for many legendary cricketers across the world. From Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh to Universe Boss Chris Gayle, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and others, icons abound here on the cricket field with a desire to showcase their skills without the fear of being judged.

For many, LLC has become a natural ‘second innings’, providing a platform for those who have taken early retirement from international cricket or IPL. After his recent meeting with iconic cricketer MS Dhoni in Ranchi, LLC CEO Raman Raheja has expressed his desire to invite the World Cup-winning captain to join the league after his retirement from the Indian Premier League.

“I am not competing with active cricket. When he (Dhoni) finishes playing for us, our doors are open for him. I will personally go and ask him to come to the league,” Raman Raheja said while responding to an IANS query. At the media roundtable.

Raheja also highlighted how cricketers themselves are bringing other players into the league. RCB star AB de Villiers and Mumbai Indians legend Kieron Pollard are also in the running to join their compatriots in LLC play, the Symbiosis graduate revealed.

“Dale Steyn was due to play in the league but unfortunately he got injured and to bring him in to play in the league, it was none other than Jacques Kallis. Now Dale Steyn has not played but he spoke to AB de Villiers about playing in the LLC,” he said.

“It has become a network among cricketers, as Shane Watson, who was also due to play in LLC, visited Shaun Marsh. I am looking forward to it (having de Villiers in LLC), and I am in discussion with him,” he added. “Not only him, but even Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are on my radar.”

“The players have become my biggest ambassadors, so, for example, players from New Zealand have brought in new players like Martin Guptill, and the same for Australia, and Finch has joined. So I see that becoming a natural thing in the second innings. “We are in a conversation not just with them (De Villiers, Pollard) but with a lot of players,” Raheja exclusively told IANS.

With an increasing number of young players opting for early retirement to participate in competitive cricket through LLC, the average age of league cricketers fell from 42 to 38 years in the recently concluded season. Raheja envisions LLC becoming the second innings of choice for players who want to continue playing cricket.

“The average age here in LLC is decreasing day by day, it was 42 years in the first season and now it has reached 38 years. This is my biggest win and we want to complement the active cricket format and not compete with them. I expect this to continue,” said the business professional. The 50-year-old athlete: “He became the first choice in the second innings for players.”

In the culmination of the LLC 2023 season, Manipal Tigers emerged victorious, defeating Urbanrisers Hyderabad by 5 wickets in the finals at the Lalabhai Contractor Stadium in Surat on Saturday. As Raheja talked about the season, he noted that while each subsequent season outperforms the previous one, the first season remains close to his heart because it turned the dream of LLC into a reality.

“Each subsequent season replaced the previous one, so in that context, every last season of ours became a favorite but obviously the first season was close to my heart because we were able to turn a dream into reality.”

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