The second Emirates Cricket and Al Ain Water’s U19 National Cricket Tournament begins on the April 11th and will feature teams from Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai and Sharjah.
With the finals taking place at the ICC Academy grounds, competition is expected to be fierce once again.
This year will see the introduction of an U16 tournament, which will commence on March 20th and finish with a final in Ajman.
Emirates Cricket Board Chief Executive Officer, David East, said, “This is the 2nd year the Under 19’s tournament has been held and we are extremely encouraged by the number of players registered and the enthusiasm of the councils ahead of the first game. It is an integral step in player development before possible national selection.”
Commenting on the importance of the councils East added, “Each cricket council within the UAE has a very important role in the success of this tournament. They have been tasked with the responsibility to selecting the best 15 players in the region. As well as the prize there is inter-council pride on the line.”
The 38-year-old was due to line up in this Friday’s one-day competition at The Sevens Ground having been named alongside skipper Ian Bell in the 12-man squad.
But the wicketkeeper-batsman, who scored more than 28,000 international runs, will now undergo surgery this week and hopes to be fit for Surrey ahead of the new English domestic season in April.
“Kumar has injured his ankle and needs to sort it out before the season. He is having surgery next week,” said his agent Charlie Austin.
“This is very disappointing for him and his UAE fans, so he is planning on taking part in next year’s Emirates T20 playing for the MCC in Dubai again.”
Despite Sangakkara’s withdrawal, the MCC can call on England international and five-time Ashes winner Bell, Samit Patel and Graham Onions in their semi-final against defending champions Yorkshire.
With the UAE and Lancashire also competing, Sport Arabia’s managing director Matthew Jackson, insists there’s plenty to look forward to with tickets still available.
“It’s a shame that Kumar will not be attending the Emirates Airline Twenty20 as he is a world-class player. However, cricket fans and families can still look forward to a first-class day out this Friday, watching top teams with over 15 international cricket stars taking part such as Bell, Patel, Onions and Gary Ballance.
“The ticket sales have been going very well and within the next 24 hours, the brunch tickets look set to be sold out.”
He added: “The Sevens Ground is the perfect venue for cricket fans to get close to the action. It’s a true family event where children and adults can enjoy the fun, get close to the stars at autograph signing sessions and watch some of the best players in the world.
“It will be fascinating to see whether the UAE can triumph over their English opposition.
“This is a real chance for youngsters in the UAE to come along and see their heroes up close and hopefully they’ll be inspired to be the cricket stars of the future.”
General entry costs Dh35, while it’s free for those under the age of 12. Premium brunch tickets are also available, varying between Dh95 and Dh395. Tickets can be purchased at www.emiratest20.com.
UAE coach Aaqib Javed insists his new-look squad is capable of causing an upset in the Emirates Airline Twenty20 tournament in Dubai.
The national selectors have named a 14-man party for the one-day competition next Friday at The Sevens Stadium with nine players retained from their recent Asia Cup campaign in Bangladesh.
Batsmen Shabbir Ahmed, Mohammad Qasim, Rameez Shazad and bowlers Mohammad Ayaz and Imran Haider are the five new faces. They replace Usman Mushtaq, Zaheer Maqsood, Saqlain Haider, Farhad Tariq and Farhan Ahmed, who travelled to Dhaka.
While captain Amjad Javed, Shaiman Anwar, Rohan Mustafa and Muhammad Naveed have been included, the competition – their first since the Asia Cup, allows Aaqib to examine his new players with an eye on the future.
“All the five new guys in this squad are just four to six months away from being eligible to play for the UAE in an official game,” said the 1992 World Cup winner, referring that players must complete four years of residency before playing an international match.
“They are all great talent. Shabbir has played a few first-class games in Pakistan and is proving to be one of the most consistent performers in the domestic circuit.
“Shazad is one of the most talented batsmen we have. He’s aggressive and can play some great shots while Qasim is a great fielder.”
The 43-year-old was equally impressed with Ayaz and particularly Haider, who took two wickets in the 79-run loss to England XI in a T20 friendly in November.
“Imran is very talented and I rate him very highly. He took five wickets in a practice game against Zimbabwe last month and did extremely well. Ayaz is definitely one to look out for and I think he’s one of the best bowlers we have in the UAE after Mohammad Naveed.”
The UAE go into the tournament on the back of an impressive showing in Bangladesh. It’s for that reason why Aaqib remains optimistic when his team lines up against English T20 champions Lancashire in the semi-final, in a tournament that features the MCC represented by Ian Bell and Kumar Sangakkara and defending champions Yorkshire.
“I think we have a great chance of going out there and putting on a good show,” he said. “We definitely have the capability of winning the competition and we shouldn’t be afraid.”