UAE's Shabbir optimistic more big scores will come

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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 15: Ghulam Shabbir of United Arab Emirates bats during the Desert T20 Challenge match between United Arab Emirates and Namibia at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Ghulam Shabbir feels he’s rediscovering his best form with the bat after scoring a half-century in the UAE defeat to Oman on Thursday.

The wicketkeeper smashed 51 runs in the 50-over match but it wasn’t enough for his team to seal a 3-0 series whitewash win as the tourists fell to a 38-run loss in Muscat.

It was the 31-year-old’s second fifty of the tour and third milestone in eight matches and the Jhang-born is pleased he’s proving that he can make big scores and not just be handy behind the stumps.

“Nowadays, cricket is evolving and batting is equally as important as wicket-keeping,” he said.

“I feel there’s been a lot of improvement in my batting and although I scored a half-century, it was disappointed to have not won the series 3-0 because that was a scoreline that we all wanted.”

The series was the last in charge for Dougie Brown as interim head coach with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) expected to name the permanent successor to Aaqib Javed later this month, a year after the ex-Pakistani pacer ended his successful four-year stay in the Emirates.

Shabbir credited Brown for their revival under the former Warwickshire boss, who also oversaw series victories in all three formats against Papua New Guinea last month.

“He’s definitely one of the best coaches I’ve worked with,” he said.

“He made the whole team united and gave the confidence to each and every player that they can do things. There was a real positive vibe around the squad and the players were really happy because we were improving every day.

“We will be ready to improve even more with the new coach.”

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Emirati cricketers to the fore at ICC Academy in new ECB programme

Denzil Pinto 26/04/2017
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The cricketers in training.

Former UAE internationals Fahad Al Hashmi, Salman Farooq and Qais Farooq, as well as Ali Mohammed Maksi, have been put through their paces in a series of training and fitness sessions as part of a new ECB initiative aimed to support the development of Emirati players.

The ECB already have an initiative in place in Al Ain with assistant coach Shahzada Saleem, who speaks Arabic, responsible for introducing the game to Emirati school children in the Garden City.

And the country’s governing body says the latest initiative is an addition to that.

“Yes this is a follow-up to that and we have coaches in place around the country and hopefully this can attract more Emiratis to come forward and take up cricket,” said Mazhar Khan, ECB administrator.

“We want to develop our Emirati programme and increase the numbers in this country.

“We have a great bunch of Emirati cricketers who have represented the UAE national team and continue to play domestic which is still very good.

“We want to develop them and the idea is to keep them fit and be involved in our cricketing activities whether it’s as a player or in a coaching role.”

UAE interim head coach Dougie Brown and Peter Kelly, sports science lead at ICC Academy and strength and conditioning coach of the national team, are just two to have overseen classes and Al Hashmi says it’s a great opportunity to enhance his knowledge.

“We were invited by the ECB and ICC Academy for this programme and it’s been really interesting so far,” said the 34-year-old pacer, who last played for the UAE at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“Although we are all playing domestic cricket, the ECB want us to continue playing and improve our knowledge and fitness with this new initiative. It’s only been three days so far but I’m definitely
enjoying it.”

This month, the Farooqs and Al Hashmi were roped in as consultants for Dubai Cricket Council team in their triumphant Under-16 Inter-Emirate tournament and Al Hashmi wants to pursue coaching if he doesn’t play for the UAE again.

“I still have hope that I can play for the UAE but if I don’t, I want to give something back because they have done a lot for me,” said Al Hashmi.

“This is a great initiative by the ECB and ICC Academy and whatever skills and knowledge I gain from this will be helpful as I can pass this on to others.”

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Going Out: Cricket with a twist in Dubai

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United Pro Sports have launched their brand new one-day cricket tournament with a unique twist that will certainly keep players on their toes.

To be held on Friday, April 28 at Dubai’s United Pro Sports, eight teams have already signed up for the United Technology and Trading Co (UTTC) Cricket Challenge and there’s still time to get a side together with registration closing on Thursday.

While all matches will follow indoor cricket rules of eight overs, organisers have added a new rule with a ‘Bazooka’ over to make it more interesting.

“The Bazooka over is a new concept to the tournament that can certainly change the game around in just six balls,” said Manish Kishore, project consultant at UPS.

“This over can be taken between the first and seventh over and can be crucial because every run that is scored that tally is double, while each wicket that falls, it will mean -10 runs for the batting team.

“This is a unique thing for us because it means that players will have be on their toes throughout the game even though they may have a commendable lead because just one over can turn the game around. It can certainly lift the confidence of the team entirely if they do well.

How to get involved

  • WHAT: UTTC Cricket Challenge
  • WHERE: United Pro Sports, Dubai
  • WHEN: Friday, April 28
  • CONTACT: [email protected]

“We have seen in the past that what an impact it can make can look forward to see how the teams approach it next week.”

Teams will be formed into one league with the top eight going through to the quarter-finals. Each side is guaranteed to play at least three matches.

While there is no restriction to age and abilities, Kishore insists it will be there plenty of reasons on why teams should sign up.

“United Pro Sports have been organising so many successful cricket tournaments and this one will be no different,” he said.

“The weather in this country is definitely getting hot and it’s much hotter than it was in previous years at this time of the month. So it’s a great opportunity for teams to play indoors and play at United Pro Sports and play in an exciting event.

“This will just be the start of a busy indoor cricket season for us because we have plans to introduce more during Ramadan so cricketers can continue playing during the summer even if the weather is hot outside.”

Registration costs Dh500 per team with trophies and medals up for grabs for the winners.

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