Desert Cubs Cricket Academy will get the chance to pick the brains of former UAE captain Mohammed Tauqir during their tour to UK next month.
Tauqir, 45, has been a familiar face at the Sharjah-based centre after his two children – Omer and Obaid – joined one of UAE’s top institutions earlier this year.
And with 78 kids, including his two sons, set to test themselves against their peers on English soil between July 25 to August 2, the ex-national spinner will offer his expertise after it was announced he would be part of the contingent.
Tauqir, who skippered the UAE at the 2015 World Cup, will be part of the Desert Cubs parents squad and head coach Presley Polonnowita is delighted to have a man, who won more than 70 caps for his country before his retirement in 2015, on board.
“It’s a great honour to have him with us on this tour and I am sure his vast experience and knowledge of the game will help our squads to do better in English conditions,” he said, whose group will be returning to England for the sixth time.
“To have played for the UAE for more than 10 years, he brings a lot to his role and he’s someone who has played in different conditions around the world.
“If we are thinking of the future of UAE cricket, it’s important to grow the game among Emiratis and I am happy that we could lay the first foundation stone through Desert Cubs tour programmes.”
During their week-long visit, Desert Cubs will field teams in four age groups – Under-12, U-14, U-16 and U-19 with matches in Leeds and Manchester across the 50-overs and two-day formats.
“We have decided not to organise any Twenty20 matches for the kids to play in England and there’s a reason for that,” said Polonnowita.
“The kids play this format a lot in the UAE but we want them to understand the importance of what it takes to play 50-over and two-day matches as it requires a lot of patience and composure.
“It will be great learning curve and I am sure these types of exposure will not only help them to gain overseas experience but also help the UAE in producing quality players in the future.”
As well as the matches, the players can also look forward to training at the Home of Cricket – Lord’s – as well as Headingley in Leeds.
“Practising at Lord’s is a dream to most of the cricket-loving kids and I am happy this dream will become a reality for them during the tour,” said Polonnowita.
“The coaching session at Headingly will be under the supervision of their experienced coaches, which is going to be an added advantage enabling our kids to prepare well for the different local playing conditions.”
Former UAE captain Khurram Khan cannot wait to share his batting expertise after joining ICC Academy as a part-time coach, saying it’s the perfect platform to get his “coaching career going”.
The ex-batsman will find himself in familiar surroundings this summer in a place where he trained regularly during his 14-year international career by passing on his knowledge to budding cricketers as a specialist one-on-one batting coach.
The 45-year-old legend brings plenty of experience, having been a batting mainstay for the national team, scoring more than 5,700 runs in all formats before calling it quits in June 2015.
While he will continue in his full-time job as a senior flight purser for Emirates airlines, Khurram, who is also a national selector for the Emirates Cricket Board, insists it was an opportunity he could not turn down.
“Since I retired I’ve been feeling bored and I wanted to come back,” he said.
“I’ve been doing some coaching courses, I’ve done my Level One and I wanted to do my Level Two in order get back involved with UAE cricket. I want to get my coaching career going and this is something that I always wanted to do. My job got in the way since I work for Emirates and there’s a roster where some days you fly and some days you can’t.
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“Given it’s a part-time role where I can work one-on-one, it’s something that is convenient in my schedule and it’s a really good platform.”
“I always said to the ECB I wanted to do something and I’m a selector now so I’m involved in the process. I thought it was time and I should formally come in on the coaching front.
“Cricket has always been in my blood for a long time and in coaching you have to start somewhere and am very happy to have joined the ICC Academy. I think it’s time to give back. I want to get started and roll in some of my own ideas.”
Khurram joins a strong team of coaches at the Academy, which boasts impressive state-of-the-art facilties, something which he believes will make his job easier.
“In terms of coaching, it’s one of the best facilities that any cricketer or coach would want to have,” he said. “It’s certainly better than other countries. When I was a player, it was fantastic to learn and play here and it’s great to be back.”
Jos Buttler is hoping England can deliver a knockout blow for Australia in the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston.
The Ashes rivals will square up for the second successive edition of the tournament, with England in the enviable position of knowing after their two Group A wins out of two so far that they have already booked a semi-final berth in Cardiff next Wednesday.
Before then, Australia will almost certainly need to beat Eoin Morgan’s hosts in Birmingham on Saturday to sneak a return to the same venue in the last four after their two washouts to date.
The tie is a repeat of the 2013 fixture, comfortably won by England on the way to that year’s final in a match better remembered for a vexed aftermath in which Australia opener David Warner ended up aiming a punch at Joe Root in a city-centre bar after a late-night misunderstanding between the two players.
Buttler, one of three survivors alongside Root and Morgan from England’s victory almost exactly four years ago, knows England can land a metaphorical but terminal shot this time.
Asked about the prospect of putting Australia out of the tournament, he said: “We won’t think too much about it … but it is always nice to know that would be the outcome if we did win.
“We now know we have qualified for the semi-finals, but we want to be going into a semi-final on the back of a win – and we’ll be desperate to do that on Saturday.”
Whatever the consequences, Buttler confirms the stakes always rise against Australia.
“Of course they do – any England-Australia game is a huge game,” he said, promising too that the hosts will once again stick to the proactive tactics which have transformed their one-day international fortunes.”
“Both sides are very aggressive, attacking teams. We will not change our style of cricket. We’ll keep trying to take them on.”
“They’ve got some good pace bowlers, but we’ll try and be aggressive with the bat as well.”
It was also in Birmingham that Morgan’s England first unveiled their new ODI template of all-out attack at the first attempt after their miserable 2015 World Cup campaign, with centuries from Buttler and Root in a 210-run win over New Zealand.
Buttler added: “We’ve got some good memories of playing there. It’s a ground we like playing at – which is one of the advantages of being at home, isn’t it?”
“We have to make the most of that.”
The wicketkeeper was back in the runs with 61 not out in the 87-run win over the Kiwis in Cardiff on Tuesday which clinched a last-four place.
It was his second unbeaten half-century in four ODI innings this summer, after a winter run of seven attempts which brought him a top score of 31.
“I think maybe in the India and West Indies series I was short of runs,” he said.
“(But) Going away to the IPL I felt in fantastic form, and then since I have been back I have scored a couple of fifties in three or four games.”
His latest success was part of a highly-encouraging all-round demonstration of England’s credentials, featuring three half-centuries as they topped 300 for the 23rd time in their last 46 matches before they defended the total with some fine pace bowling.
“It was a fantastic team performance,” said Buttler. “We got up to what looked to be a good score on that wicket, because it got harder and harder to bat on as the game went on.”
“Then the opening pair with the ball bowled fantastically well up front.”
“That set up the whole innings, and then Mark Wood coming back and getting the key wicket of Kane Williamson really turned the game in our favour.”
*From Press Association Sport