The last two seasons saw some exceptional team and individual displays and the 2016/17 campaign was no different as the UAE’s stars of tomorrow battled for glory in the country’s only unified schools competition.
A total of 65 teams from 37 schools in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah began their quest in October in their bid of standing top of their class, but in the end it was just one school that dominated.
Our Own Zenith had already taken the Under-15 title in 2016 but that was just the start as they took a clean sweep with the U-12, U-14 and U-17 crowns.
And while it was all smiles for the Zenith’s squads, the tournament showed once again that the future is bright for UAE cricket.
Centuries, five-wicket hauls, and superb catches were just some of the highlights this season.
In the U-14 category, Zenith skipper Shoun Roger made a habit of winning player-of-the-match awards and it was no surprise to see him top the run charts in the tournament (266) and wickets (18) as well as claiming the MVP accolade.
In the U-17 category, history was made when Mohammed Ajmal (100) and Brandon Martis (110no) each scored a century in the same match when Zenith beat NIMS Rising Stars by 192 runs in November.
That was just a sign of things to come as Ajmal’s knock eventually saw him win the top run-scorer award with 320 runs, five more than team-mate Martis whose unbeaten 72 in the final against DPS Sharjah was not enough.
In the bowling department, despite losing the final, there was something to cheer for DPS Sharjah’s Owais Sajid, who took home the best bowler award with 12 scalps.
Although there was no individual accolade for their efforts, Aditya Manglani, Kushal Chiluka and Sailles Jaishankar can look back at having taken five-wicket hauls, while JC Heat’s Yash Ramchandani will be encouraged that he was on form with the bat, with three half-centuries in his four matches.
The players were able to play all matches on turf wickets across the emirate, including the final at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium, and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had nothing but praise for the NSL.
“It is great to have the NSL on our yearly calendar offering school players in UAE access to a high quality tournament played on turf pitches,” said Andrew Russell, national development manager at the ECB.
“To have the final in the Sharjah International Stadium was a fantastic experience and a rare opportunity for all involved.”
Nawal Al Bayari, head of CSR Council at ADIB, added: “The support of such events goes a long way in developing and promoting sporting talent in the UAE.
“This season was yet another success and we are proud of supporting this event that promotes fitness and a healthy and active lifestyle for our children.
“ADIB continues to support community events that engage the youth and the NSL is an ideal platform to achieve that.”