UAE captain Rohan Mustafa believes the national team is reaping the rewards of having central-contracted players following their recent improvement on the field.
The UAE arrived back to Dubai on Friday morning having clinched a 2-1 series victory in the 50-over format over Oman. It was their third-consecutive series triumph after beating Papua New Guinea on their home turf in the T20s (3-0) and ODIs (2-1) as well as the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup last month.
The positive results have come almost 12 months after the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) introduced their first-ever central contracts with eight players on full-time deals, while four are on part-time.
Full-timers Imran Haider, Qader Ahmed, Mustafa, Mohammed Qasim, Mohammed Usman, Rameez Shahzad and Ghulam Shabbir, as well as part-timers Amjad Javed, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Naveed and Shaiman Anwar were 11 of the dozen to have played in both or one of the series.
The move came at a time when the UAE were struggling but since the announcement, the team have gradually showed signs of improvement with 13 wins in 29 matches, 11 of those in 2017 alone. Mustafa now feels the step of moving into professionalism is beginning to pay off.
“It’s been almost a year since we have been awarded the central contracts and I do honestly believe we are seeing improvement in the team,” said the 29-year-old batsman.
We look at five men behind UAE cricket's upturn in fortunes after getting back to winning ways against PNG.https://t.co/a3Ue3OC8DP— Sport360° (@Sport360) April 17, 2017
“When the contracts first began, my average in ODIs was around seven or eight and now it’s around 26. When Mohammed Usman and Imran Haider started, they were not consistent with their performances but now over the time, they’ve improved considerably and are taking wickets and scoring runs. “If you work hard for many hours per day, there’s no doubt you can improve as a player and I’m seeing that everyday when we train regularly. I’m really happy that we are playing well and I think the ability to train on a daily basis for a full day is making a big difference.”
The recent change of fortunes has also been achieved without a permanent head coach after Aaqib Javed stepped down last May. Former England internationals Paul Franks, Owais Shah and ex-Warwickshire boss Dougie Brown, who was in charge for the PNG and Oman series, have all been at the helm on short term deals.
The ECB is expected to make an official announcement on Aaqib’s permanent successor later this month and while Mustafa respects the decision for taking their time, he admits it was a difficult period working with different coaches.
“In my point of view, once you bring in a new coach for a short period, it’s very difficult for a player,” he said. “Each person has their own coaching philosophy and it can be different working with others. “I’ve seen a good coach in Dougie Brown and he’s very understandable. He doesn’t get frustrated if we don’t win games or do mistakes because he makes us understand. He’s a good coach and if he stays on as UAE coach it will be good.”