Dougie Brown’s side will compete in the tournament alongside hosts Kuwait, Maldives, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia between April 20-27. It is the first qualifying stage for the showpiece event in Australia.
According to the Maldives Cricket Association website, the event will be played in a round-robin format with the top three sides joining Nepal, Singapore and Malaysia in the Asia Regional finals.
On paper, the UAE are favourites to claim one of the qualifying spots and skipper Rohan Mustafa believes they have enough quality to progress to the next stage.
“For us, it’s an important tournament event and one that I feel will have no problem qualifying for the next round,” said the 29-year-old all-rounder.
“There are some good teams there but it’s a chance for us to qualify for the next round of the World Twenty20.”
The UAE last reached the global competition in 2014 when they suffered a group stage exit after consecutive losses to Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Ireland.
But they will go into the tournament in Kuwait buoyed by their showing at the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. Despite not qualifying for England, they secured ODI status until 2022, while also registering their first triumph over hosts Zimbabwe on Thursday – their first against a Test nation. They also put on spirited displays against Afghanistan and West Indies.
And head coach Brown believes his team will only get stronger, beginning in Kuwait after their performances in Zimbabwe.
“I could not have been more proud on the effort of the guys not just for the tournament but over the last 12 months,” said the 48-year-old.
“It’s just a reward for everything they have given towards that has seen them be in this position. Obviously, whoever has watched the game against Zimababwe, will be delighted that we got over the line but some of the games that we played that were not on television particularly against West Indies and Afghanistan, I thought we played exceptionally well.
“On paper, you would think they are ahead of us but we showed that we have an attitude that allowed us to compete at this level.”
The Herald, Zimbabwe’s most-prominent daily publication, published a piece on their back page on Friday morning criticising their national team’s exit.
“Out of respect for 15 million Zimbabweans around the world and 15,000 fans who packed Harare Sport Club to capacity, still being tormented by the dumping of the ‘Choking Chevrons’ from the World Cup from a rag-tag team of amateurs from the United Arab Emirates, we won’t show you any picture on this front page from that disaster but just this black background to mourn the day our cricket died, a slow and painful death,” it read.
The UAE, who turned professional in July 2016, put on a fine performance to win by three runs for their first victory against a Test nation. Zimbabwe needed to beat either the West Indies or the UAE to reach next year’s cricketing showpiece in England and Wales but were beaten by Brown’s men, while Afghanistan turned over Ireland on Friday to end their chances.
Brown responded back on Twitter prior to their departure on Friday night and after arriving in Dubai on Saturday morning, opened up on why he felt the newspaper was ‘grossly unfair’ to his team.
Thanks @HeraldZimbabwe... I quote... ‘rag tag team of amateurs’ @EmiratesCricket Nice use of language to describe us... Sorry you didn’t qualify for the WC but at least give us some credit for how we played! pic.twitter.com/vhNhZNgSid— Dougie Brown (@dougie1brown) March 23, 2018
“I think we have shown so many positive things over the course over the tournament,” said the 48-year-old. “We played a very good game and we have proved to many people that we can be a force to be reckoned with.
“The comment from the newspaper was clearly that they were reeling from the fact that they didn’t qualify for the World Cup. I can’t do anything about that.
“But to call us ‘a rag-tag team of amateurs’ was grossly unfair and anyone who has saw that match will actually justify that, we’re not that and we’re far better than that.
“Not only did we win the game but over the course of the match, we deserved to win it because we showed better skill, more willingless to win. It’s grossly unfair to brand us what they did and that was why I was vocal in what I said.”
Emirates Cricket Board plans to develop the game are set to continue by launching an inaugural five-tournament ‘UAE Cricket Leagues’ series, which begins on Sunday.
Over an 11-week period, between March to September, the Leagues will bring together all four councils – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai and Sharjah – to compete in Twenty20 and 50-over formats in boys, women’s and men’s categories. This will be played through a 28 match-schedule across the country.
“Emirates Cricket is very excited to launch the UAE Cricket Leagues,” said Zayed Abbas, Emirates Cricket spokesperson.
“We have a number of successful stand-alone tournaments in our National structure and calendar already, however we were also very aware of the need and opportunity to replicate the successful domestic leagues, of other full members, here in the UAE.
“After lengthy discussions with our Councils we conceptualised and implemented this series, which will bring the main categories and formats under one competitive, unified structure, one where the UAE’s four Councils will compete for a National Trophy, and ultimate glory, in T20 and 50-over formats of the game.”
“We are delighted with the support we have received from the Councils, and thank them for their commitment to the success of the Inaugural Leagues as well as to its future.”
We're REALLY excited about this one!— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) March 24, 2018
INAUGURAL #UAE #Cricket Leagues launch TOMORROW! Action gets underway with the U16's tournament!
More about the Leagues 👉 https://t.co/Q1BGj79Kpf
&👇 for the opening U16 tourny & upcoming U19.
🇦🇪 🏏 #FutureStars #BackYourEmirate pic.twitter.com/hPgFj2Iuef
Previous Under-16 and U-19 tournaments have provided the platform for their search in identifying players for upcoming international competitions and this year will be no different.
“Another very important aspect is that the Leagues create a best vs best from each Council, which will provide us with our primary vehicle to integrate with Emirates Cricket’s National Team selection and talent identification process,” added Abbas.
The U-16 tournament will be played from Sunday until Saturday, March 31, while the U-19 will compete in the 50-over series from April 2 to 7.
For the first time, there will also be a men’s T20 National League scheduled mid-April, followed by the men’s 50-over league as well as the T20 event in September.