It seems like only yesterday that Dougie Brown was appointed the new head coach of the UAE national team but as the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun.
Monday marked exactly a year to the day that Brown has held the role after being named by the Emirates Cricket Board as Aaqib Javed’s permanent successor following the 1992 World Cup winner’s exit in May 2016.
His appointment wasn’t really much of a surprise and no-one could question it either. As interim coach in his first three months, his record spoke for itself. A first victory in three-and-a-half years in the four-day format against Papua New Guinea – including an ODI series win – as well as triumphing in Oman were among his achievements during his 12-week stay.
While results were on the up, more importantly the players rediscovered their self-belief and confidence that was severely lacking by the time Javed departed. Only time could tell what Brown was capable of given the reins on a full-time basis, and he hasn’t looked back since.
The last 12 months have been nothing short of a remarkable journey. What started off as a first-ever away series win against the Netherlands in July, ended with their 2020 World Twenty20 qualification hopes still alive after breezing through the preliminary Asian Qualifiers in Kuwait last month.
Since the start of 2018, the UAE found themselves on the verge of losing their ODI status in the Division Two World Cricket League in Namibia, only to bounce back from consecutive wins to keep their hopes alive and book their place in the World Cup Qualifier.
And in Zimbabwe, they didn’t disappoint either. Chris Gayle was the difference as they put up a spirited display against World T20 champions West Indies, while also securing their ODI status until 2022 thanks to their Super Six qualification.
But one of the UAE’s most significant results came in their final match against Zimbabwe. Brown’s men had nothing but pride to play for, yet they defied the odds and made the world take notice by stunning the hosts in a three-run victory, which all but ended their qualification hopes for next year’s World Cup.
Hours after that historic game, Brown took to social media, labeling his team as ‘a special group of players’. Not for the first time, he lauded his charges but captain Rohan Mustafa and Co will be the first to admit their recent successes have been largely down to Brown and his coaching team.
His squad doesn’t consist of world-class stars like Virat Kohli or AB de Villiers but he has a crop of players who on their day can be formidable. His friendly character and willingness to offer tips and advice in a constructive manner is warmly received and in the last 15 months, his team has been playing cricket with a smile.
Monday marked the first anniversary for Dougie Brown as the UAE head coach. The former Warwickshire supremo was named as Aaqib Javed’s successor following a successful three-month stint.
Here, we look at the three best achievements under the helm of the ex-England and Scotland international.
BEATING PAPUA NEW GUINEA BY NINE WICKETS, APRIL 2017
ICC INTERCONTINENTAL CUP
The UAE had not tasted a victory in the four-day game since September 2013 but that record ended in some style at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
After three defeats and a draw in their four previous games, the UAE was back to winning ways in the whites with a convincing nine-wicket triumph over Papua New Guinea. Muhammad Usman and Saqlain Haider both scored centuries as Dougie Brown achieved something that even Javed could not do during his four years in charge.
NETHERLANDS SERIES VICTORY, JULY 2017
The former England all-rounder could not have asked for a better start to his stint as permanent head coach. The UAE faced a Netherlands side who had beaten them on their last visit to the Emirates in 2016 but there was no repeat this time as Brown’s boys continued their good form with a 2-1 series victory.
It was no ordinary series triumph. especially as it was their first away from home against the Dutch. Rohan Mustafa, Mohammad Usman and even an unlikely four-wicket haul from veteran batsman Shaiman Anwar who impressed on the tour.
BEATING ZIMBABWE BY THREE RUNS, MARCH 2018
WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
A historic result that not only ended their wait for a triumph over a Test-playing nation but ended Zimbabwe’s hopes of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup. ODI status was already secured in the Super Six stage but with nothing but pride to play for in their final match, the UAE stepped up their game and were rewarded with a thrilling three-win win (D-L method) in the World Cup Qualifier.
After Rameez Shahzad scored a 59, Mohammad Naveed returned with the ball to take 3-40 and end the African’s hopes of booking their ticket to England. Just a few months earlier, the UAE had whitewashed Zimbabwe ‘A’ 5-0 in a home series in Dubai.
The 19-year-old all-rounder was recommended to the sport’s governing body by the Emirates Cricket Board following a superb domestic campaign and will join 12 other players from Ireland, the Netherlands, PNG, Uganda and Scotland for the 15-21 July tour.
Oza will travel to England on the back of an impressive season where the Desert Cubs player finished as the joint highest wicket-taker (eight) and run-scorer (337) in the ECB Women’s National League. She also hit a maiden century in the competition.
During the UK trip, which follows the Women’s World T20 Qualifier in the Netherlands, the ICC squad will get the exposure of playing England’s Super League sides.
“I was a bit surprised but I’m really excited as this is the first time the ICC development squad is happening,” said Oza. “I will be playing cricket with different players from different countries, so it’s all very exciting for me.”
Having studied in England for two years in 2003, Oza never got the chance to play cricket but is looking forward to enhancing her skills and knowledge at the ‘home of cricket’.
“Although I lived in England before when I was younger, this will be the first time that I’ll be playing cricket,” she added. “It’s very exciting because England is a big cricketing nation and it is the home of cricket so it’s a great chance for me to develop as a player.”
The initiative, which is a partnership between the ICC and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), hopes it can provide exposure to teams outside the top-eight ranked sides who feature in the ICC Women’s Championship in their bid to make the World Twenty20Is more competitive in the coming years.
And Oza believes it’s a great step that will only boost women’s cricket. “It’s a great move as we will be playing against strong English sides will be very beneficial,” she added. “As a player from an Associate nation, we don’t get to play too many matches and this is real opportunity to play and train with them. We will learn a lot of new things on how to play the game and get a chance to improve.”
Despite being the only UAE player to be selected, Oza is hopeful more of her international team-mates can follow in her footsteps.
“This should be the beginning. If they have this every year, perhaps there will be more. Netherlands have two players and hopefully more UAE players can be given a chance over time.”