UAE springboard provided as Emirates Cricket Board to expand Inter-Emirates tournament

Denzil Pinto 30/01/2018
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Big success: The U-16 competition was launched in 2015

Emirates Cricket Board’s attempts to get more players battle ready for UAE duty look set to continue with plans of expanding the Inter-Emirates tournament with men’s and women’s categories.

The competition has been a permanent fixture on the UAE cricket domestic calendar since 2015 when the Under-19 event was first held followed by the Under-16 tournament 12 months later.

Representing their respective emirate – Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Ajman in a round-robin league, it is the first stage of getting noticed by the national team selectors of a potential.

And following the success at youth level, Mazhar Khan, general manager of Sharjah Cricket Stadium and ECB administrator, believes it’s a good move to open the doors to adults.

“Domestic cricket has to be strong for any teams to develop and this is a big move forward,” he said. “We know that there are many domestic competitions being held but this is a different way of choosing the best players from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman. By having a regional inter-emirate tournament, it’s a very good idea and this will be an elite tournament that will give ECB the opportunity to pick the players for the national team hopefully.”

Although plans are yet to be finalised, the men’s category will be played in a 50-over competition which will involve members of the national team, while the women’s event is set to be a 20-over tournament.

In previous years, the ECB have identified the best bunch of players who have impressed and shortlisted them for a training camp ahead of representing the national team at upcoming U-16 and U-19 tournaments. The formula has been a success, with the U-19s qualifying for the Asia Cup last year.

The U-16s were also crowned Asian Western Region champions in December, on home soil.

This weekend, Dubai and Sharjah will be among the two Emirates that will host their trials for hopefuls. The U-16 and U-19 competitions will continue to run and with previous trials attracting big numbers, Khan believes 2018 will be no different.

“There is a lot of excitement with parents, schools and academies as it’s a new Inter-Emirate tournament,” he said.

“All of them are supporting this initiative and I’m sure all the matches will be closely-fought. Since it’s a Emirate tournament organised by the Emirates Cricket Board, I’m sure every person and every team will want to put on a good show.”

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Maxtalent Global Sports' coach Sudhakar Shetty on mission to help underprivileged kids in India

Denzil Pinto 29/01/2018
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For more than a decade, Sudhakar Shetty has been training the UAE’s stars of tomorrow but yet still finds time to travel to India to help underprivileged kids to not only play cricket but have a better life.

Just last weekend, Shetty was passing on his knowledge as Maxtalent Global Sports’ head coach in Dubai but for the next few days Mumbai will be his home, opening the doors for Indian children.

As chairman of the Maxtalent Trust Programme, giving back to the community is very close to Shetty’s heart. In this visit, his Trust has teamed up with SVKM School who will donate 40 bicycles to Adivasi kids so that they don’t have to walk up to 7km to their school.

“I have always wanted to create an awareness in helping kids whenever we came on tour with the Maxtalent kids,” said Shetty. “Last year, we took some of the boys stay in our hotel and give them a feel of what life is like and a reality. They have never come to Mumbai and for them it was a great experience.”

He added: “This visit will be another milestone. It is our dream, vision and goal to bridge the gap by helping underprivileged kids engage and understand what life is all about that will make their lives easier.

“Whenever we come on tours, it will always be our aim for Maxtalent Global Sports to stay and interact with them as cricket is a sport that can bring us closer.”

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UAE national cricket team fly out to South Africa for training camp

Denzil Pinto 28/01/2018
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South Africa-bound: UAE team on Sunday. Pic: Emirates Cricket

The UAE national team left for South Africa on Sunday morning for an intense training camp ahead of their pre-World Cup qualifiers next month.

The side will compete in the ICC World Cricket League Division Two in Namibia from February 8-15 alongside the hosts, Canada, Kenya, Nepal and Oman from which the top two nations will qualify for the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers in March.

To ensure they are in the best possible shape for those fixtures, the UAE will spend time adjusting to conditions in Pretoria until early next week before moving to the Namibian capital Windhoek.

UAE captain Rohan Mustafa was part of the squad to fly from Dubai and believes the training camp is a huge boost for their preparations for what he described as an “important series”.

“The fact that we are going early for a training camp is very good news for us,” said the 29-year-old all-rounder.

“We experienced the last time we went to Namibia (for their tour in September) that it’s a place where it’s high altitude and adjusting to that and the conditions will be very important.

“For the new guys, it will be a great learning experience and for the whole team, it will help us be 100 per cent ready physically and mentally for the first game.”

The players flew to South Africa not short of match preparation after playing Ireland, Afghanistan and Scotland in Dubai earlier this month. Their only victory against those nations came against Scotland in the ODI tri-series with No4 batsman Rameez Shahzad scoring an unbeaten 121 in the four-wicket triumph.

Mustafa insists those games were a great learning experience and is encouraged to see that the middle-order batsmen are also performing.

“The fact that the likes of Rameez Shahzad are scoring big is very positive for us,” added Mustafa. “It shows the top and middle-order batsman can perform and that is what we’ll need in the Division Two qualifiers.

“We have learnt a huge lot from these games as we hadn’t played since Christmas. We played some good games and were unlucky but losing and winning is part of the game.”

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