Having won every edition since its inception, defending Indoor Cricket World Cup champions Australia are wary of the pressure placed on them once again and expect this week’s competition to be the most “fiercely” contested tournament for a long time.
Hosts UAE, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka and Singapore will all be bidding to do something that no other nation has done before and dethrone Australia as world champions in the men’s, women’s, men’s U-21 and women’s U-21 categories.
The men’s side have triumphed on each occasion since 1995, while their female counterparts have dominated since 1998. Their U-21 sides also followed suit, winning every title since 2004.
The 10th edition of the week-long competition gets underway at Dubai’s InSportz Club today and Australia men’s skipper Lyle Teske is bracing for a difficult seven days.
“I think this will be one of the most fiercely World Cups for a long time,” he said, whose side open their campaign against Malaysia today. “All the oppositions are all very strong and we just have to focus on what we have to do. If we do that, then I think we can do very well.
“If we have one edge, then it’s something that we have done it before. But when it comes to games, pressure is a funny thing.”
For Jude Coleman, she has skippered the Australian female’s team since 1995 and has seen the format grow. “We find that every year it’s growing and we have set the standard and know they are trying to catch us,” said the six-time World Cup winner.
“We have a very good structure at home and we are expecting an even tougher World Cup. There’s definitely on the pressure for a team who has never lost the World Cup final but we have prepared
Regina Lilli’s New Zealand side lost to Australia in the women’s final but believes a squad mixed with youth and experienced, can go all the way this time.
“The girls have worked hard to get here,” she said, who face South Africa today.
“We have nothing to lose here and give it our best shot. Our team got a good mix of young players and there’s a lot of youngsters coming through and the future is looking bright for the women’s game.”
For the UAE, the men’s side open against six-time runners-up New Zealand, who they beat in a warm-up on Monday, while the women’s side play England and Australia.
More than a decade after seeing his dream of representing the UAE senior team dashed, Umar Shah is grateful to be given another chance at this week’s Indoor Cricket World Cup.
Shah, 31, played for the outdoor national team at the Under-19 Asia Cup qualifiers in Pakistan way back in 2003 and soon set his sights on being part of the senior team one day.
However, those hopes were over just 12 months later when he injured his knee while fielding during a domestic game in Dubai.
That saw him ruled out for almost two years but having underwent rehabilitation, he got back into the game in 2006 – playing indoor cricket with Danube Tigers as well as the outdoor version with Fly Emirates.
There was no recall to the national outdoor team since then but an opportunity came knocking when the UAE were awarded the rights to host the Indoor Cricket World Cup at Dubai’s InSportz Club.
He beat more than 50 hopefuls to be selected in the 12-man squad and Shah wants to make the most of his opportunity, having admitted he never thought he would play for the UAE again after his knee injury.
“It really has been an emotional journey for me,” said Shah. “To have suffered that knee injury was heartbreaking and it was very disappointing especially as I didn’t play the game for a long time.
“It was a tough time for me and my family to be honest. I could only watch cricket and would’ve loved to have played but I just couldn’t because of the injury.”
He added: “I had a feeling my chance of playing for the UAE was gone but I’m very grateful that InSportz Club and the Emriates Cricket Board has given me an opportunity to play for the UAE again.”
While he still plays the outdoor game occasionally, he feels the indoor game has helped him enhance his all-round game.
“This is something that I play regularly especially as you can play after work with your friends,” he said.
“It’s fast-paced action which is good and I’m really happy to be part of the first UAE side to be playing in the Indoor Cricket World Cup. I’m really happy to wear the UAE colours again and hope we can do well.”
Budding cricketers in the UAE will have a chance to pick the brains of former Indian international Robin Singh on a regular basis after he confirmed he will open his new academy in Dubai.
The RS Sports Academy, which is under Zenith Sports Academy LLC, a new sports management overseen by Singh, will officially launch later this month. Singh, 53, who is CEO of his academy, brings a vast amount of experience, having scored more than 2,000 runs in his 136 ODIs.
He is also the batting coach for the Mumbai Indians, having been the head coach while he will also take charge Bloem City Blazers in the South African T20 Global League.
“It has been one of my dreams to set up something in Dubai especially in the coaching front,” said Singh, who will be based in Dubai.
“I want to provide the platform for aspiring kids for this part of the world and pursue their passion and dreams. I want to give them equal opportunity like any other sports person around the globe and unfortunately, most of the young cricketers in the Associate countries don’t really see the opportunity available. I want to show them the path and want to take this to the other level.”
Cricketers will have the opportunity to tour various Test-playing countries, while also have the opportunity to train with international cricketers and coaches through the academy’s tie ups in places like Hong Kong, South Africa, Caribbean and India.
“RS Sports Academy will employ technology and video analytics used by international teams to assist the coaches,” added Singh. “The academy is in advanced talks to launch at five to six schools in Dubai and will look to tie up with another three-four schools by the end of the year.”