Former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag will visit the UAE later this year after being named brand ambassador for the inaugural Ten Premier League.
The 37-year-old batsman, who retired from the game last year, will hand over the prizes including the winning trophy to the eventual champion on December 2 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
With gully cricket widely popular in India, tournament organiser Abdul Latif Khan is excited to bring the format to the UAE and insists roping in Sehwag is a big plus.
“The format of the game is huge in India and we want to bring this to an international level,” said Khan. “By bringing someone from India as a brand ambassador in promoting the game was key and having Virender Sehwag is a perfect choice as he is one of the world’s most famous cricketers.”
The event, to start from November 29, has already attracted interest from within the UAE and abroad, with teams from Qatar, India, Kuwait already confirming their participation for the tournament, that will be played with a hard tennis ball.
Twenty teams will battle it out for the top honours with a total of Dh250,000 in prize money up for grabs.
“The Ten Premier League is going to be an exciting tournament and we want to give it some exposure in the UAE as international teams contest for the title. There will be approximately 500 players in action with 47 games played throughout the tournament.”
He added: “Registration for teams is still open until September 15 and we invite interested teams to come and join us.”
For more information, email Arif Khan on [email protected]
An Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) official has confirmed the UAE Under-19 squad will play Hong Kong in a home series next month in preparation for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Malaysia.
The two teams are to meet in three 50-over matches on September 20, 21 and 23 at unconfirmed venues ahead of their departure to Kuala Lumpur later that week.
The news comes after plans to host Saudi Arabia failed to materialise and ECB national development manager Andy Russell insists the three encounters will provide the UAE perfect preparation.
“The matches against Hong Kong is great preparation because it’s so close to the actual tournament,” he said.
“It’s going to be a very competitive event and it’s a good chance to see where we actually stand. Playing three games against Hong Kong will be a great test for the players as they will get to know what to expect in Malaysia.”
Russell has confirmed ex-Derbyshire cricketer Dominic Telo, who has been involved in the national set-up at both Under-19 and senior level, will take charge of the side and will be assisted by team manager Shah Hussain.
The UAE will face the Asian outfit again in Malaysia having been drawn together alongside Thailand and Oman in Group B.
If the UAE top the 10-team tournament they will advance to Division One, where a further tournament will be held in Sri Lanka in December with a place in the showpiece event in New Zealand up for grabs.
Captain Yodhin Punja has welcomed the Hong Kong series, saying it’s a boost in getting match fitness.
“We haven’t played a lot of cricket as a team and although we have trained a lot, I think definitely it will help us gel well as a side,” said the 17-year-old.
“It’s a good move by the ECB because they’ve never organised anything like this for the Under-19s. There’s really no negatives in playing matches as a team. You can only gain positives because you learn more with each other.
“For me as a captain, I can learn how players respond to situations and there’s no real harm in preparing for a tournament like this. All of us really want to play in the World Cup so this is the first step to making a strong statement.”
Punja, who made his ODI debut for the UAE against Hong Kong in November 2015, added: “Hong Kong will be the strongest team in the group and definitely think it will be a good challenge.
“It will help us get ready and get an idea of what we need to work on before we go to Malaysia.”
Former skipper Waruna Perera has set his sights on making the UAE senior team having been overlooked in the Under-19 squad for next month’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers due to age restrictions.
The batsman was one of eight players to have been ineligible for the 50-over tournament in Malaysia after the International Cricket Council (ICC), ruled only players born after September 1, 1998 can be named in the final 16-man squad.
Having turned 19 on June 6, Perera’s U-19 international career is now over and while he enjoyed every minute of donning the national jersey in his four years, he is determined to step up his game and break into the seniors set-up within the next two years.
“I’m not disappointed because one day my UAE Under-19 career was always going to come to an end,” said Perera, who led the team in last year’s Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) Premier League tournament in Malaysia.
“Playing for four years for the UAE has been great. It made me a different player and I started looking at the sport in a different way. “It’s been a wonderful experience and I can’t ask for anything better than that.”
A member of the UAE World Cup squad in 2014, the Desert Cubs player has been a familiar name in the set-up. Unlike many of his team-mates who have gone abroad to study, he plans to stay in the UAE and continue his international career.
“For sure, I’ll be staying in the UAE and have no plans of leaving. I’ll be studying here and I really want to make the senior team,” he said. “I’m willing to work hard and if I do make it to do the senior team, it will be a really special moment. But I just want to improve my fitness and stay injury free.”