Head coach Dougie Brown believes the UAE’s preparation camp in South Africa and Namibia will be even more crucial considering his players will have to adapt to playing in a high altitude environment.
The national team will tour Namibia next month for a four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup match beginning September 16 as well as two 50-over games in the World Cricket League on September 21 and 23.
To ensure they are in the best possible shape for those encounters, the coaching staff and the 14-man squad will fly to Pretoria next Monday for a 12-day camp split between Cricket South Africa High Performance Centre, and then Windhoek in Namibia.
With Windhoek’s Wanderers Cricket Ground, which will host the three matches, located approximately 5,600 feet above sea level, Brown is aware of the task ahead but is confident it will only aide his team’s preparations.
“It’s going to be enormous for us,” said the 47-year-old. “A lot of the guys have never played there in Windhoek before and that’s around 6,000 feet above sea level.
“If you’ve been in that environment for any period of time, then you’ll understand exactly the impact of what they would be doing when you’re doing anything physical.
“We are going to Pretoria to begin with and that has altitude as well but not as high as Windhoek. Those preparations will be really important, not just from a cricket perspective but form a physiological perspective.
“It’s getting the guys used to being in an environment they’re not used to but it will be really good. Once we get to Namibia, that’s when the preparation really starts and it’s about winning matches.
“Everything that we have done so far, is in preparation for that. But when we get to Namibia, that’s when it really starts to begin.”
Three successful UAE-based businessmen, including the co-owner of UAE Royals, have joined hands to purchase a team that will compete in the inaugural Ten Cricket League (TCL) in Sharjah later this year.
Brothers Anis and Rizwan Sajan, owners of Danube and Neelesh Bhatnagar, managing director of NB Ventures and co-owner of UAE Royals, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) franchise, have bought a team, which will be named Gujarat Tigers.
Their announcement came less than 24 hours after reports emerged of the tournament on Wednesday evening.
According to various outlets, the 10-over competition will run from December 21-24 at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium and will see the likes of Virender Sehwag, Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi in action over 90 minutes.
Shaji Ul-Mulk, president of TCL, confirmed to Sport360° that a press conference will be announced later to reveal further details.
For Anis, who is described as ‘Mr Cricket’ of the UAE, due to his passion for the sport as well as owning successful UAE teams Danube Tigers and Danube Lions, and Masters Champions League outfit Sagittarius Strikers, he is thrilled to be back in the game.
“We thought a name like Gujarat Tigers would be good because the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is from Gujarat and that’s why we preferred to choose that city,” explained Anis, who will also mentor the Indian cricket team during next month’s Indoor World Cup in Dubai.
“I’m really happy to be a co-owner of the team because this is a new format. When T20 was first launched, people were not sure how successful it would become and look at it now.”
Bhatnagar, says the opportunity to co-own a sports team was one he could not turn down. “I co-own the UAE Royals in the International Premier Tennis League and this will be the second team I’ll be co-owning and am really exciting with this new venture,” he said.
While Bhatnagar and Anis have both expressed their desire to sign blistering batsman Gayle during the draft, the latter believes the competition has the potential to exceed expectations.
“If this tournament is pulled off well and there’s crowd and there is the right kind of players playing, this is going to be a tournament like the big football leagues that are all over the world,” he said.
“It will be a super tournament and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the other countries start launching their own competitions. I think this will take UAE to another level.”
Heriot-Watt made it hat-trick of wins in the UAE national qualifiers of the Red Bull Campus Cricket after outclassing Bits Pilani.
Their reward is a ticket to Sri Lanka to represent the UAE at the World Finals, where they will take on Australia, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, India, Pakistan and South Africa for a chance to be crowned champions.
At Ajman Mumbai Cricket ground, Bits Pilani elected to bat first but captain Ishant was left to rue the decision after losing two wickets in the first two overs.
Apart from Pawan and Yasaswi who offered some resistance with 25 and 52 runs respectively, wickets continued to fall with Bits Pilani all out for 117. UAE international Chirag Suri, who was bought by Gujarat Lions in the IPL auction in February, showed his class with the ball, after finishing with figures of 3-24.
The batsman later returned to the crease, by scoring a quick-fire 49 off 25 deliveries, sealing victory for his team within nine overs. Suri was named man of the match and the man of the tournament awards for his all-round performance, as well as the best batsman award for an outstanding campaign throughout the Red Bull Campus Cricket 2017. Ihtisham Sabir was declared best bowler.
Speaking of the victory, Suri, said: “With this win we are Hat-trick heroes. We won Red Bull Campus Cricket thrice and are honoured to represent the UAE in the final in Sri Lanka.
“It was not an easy match but with the right spirit and great players we made it happen”.
Tournament director Brendon Kuruppu, was impressed with what he saw from the teams. “There’s nothing quite like a high-intensity tournament to test the mettle of developing cricketers, and that’s exactly what the Campus Cricket World Final is,” he said. “You learn and improve from playing against the best. This tournament is a wonderful opportunity for players to pick each other’s brains and share their own knowledge on the game, while also showing the world what they’ve got.”
The group stage in the World Finals of the Red Bull Campus Cricket 2017 will place from September 10 to 12 in Colombo. The action will then move from the capital to Galle where the famous Galle International Stadium will host the semi-finals and final. Defending champions, Sri Lanka’s Business Management School are aiming to win successive titles – a feat only previously achieved by Assupol Tuks Cricket (University of Pretoria).