Ahmed Raza and Rohan Mustafa praise Dougie Brown's impact in first year as UAE coach

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Rohan Mustafa (left) and Dougie Brown (right)

Ahmed Raza and Rohan Mustafa have praised the impact Dougie Brown has had since he was appointed as the UAE head coach last year.

Brown, 48, has been in his role for one year now after being named as Aaqib Javed’s permanent successor last May following a successful three-month stint as interim coach.

Under the former England and Scotland international, the UAE national team have rediscovered their best form since the departure of Javed, winning 25 of 39 matches in all competitions.

During that period, the UAE not only retained their ODI status until 2022 but also claimed their first-ever triumph against a Test nation when they defeated Zimbabwe in March’s World Cup Qualifier.

And Raza had nothing but praise for the ex-Warwickshire supremo.

“I think Dougie’s influence to everyone has been very good,” said Raza. “I really like the way he deals with everyone and coaches us. He’s probably one of the coaches who keeps things so simple and only focuses on the simple bits of cricket. He talks about one thing very often which is ‘the teams who do the basics well, come out as winners.’ His thought has always been like that. He has improved our game so much that even a lower-order batsman will go into the field, knowing he can bat.

“Just his mindset that he’s given to us, in any game we’ve played in recent times, we’ve never thought the opposition was a better team than us. Even if we think about the West Indies (in the World Cup Qualifier where they lost narrowly), we were not fazed out about the stars they had, the result didn’t go our way but we played a very good game of cricket.”

Captain Mustafa echoed Raza’s view but also felt his players should receive equal praise as Brown.

“When the team wins, people credit the players and coaches. But I feel it should go to the players. Brown is one of the best coaches UAE have had. He’s a professional coach and he understands what’s going on the ground but also outside the ground. He will listen to our problems and he’s a caring person and always working hard.”

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UAE players urge ICC to arrange more ODIs against Test nations

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Vocal: Rohan Mustafa (l) and Ahmed Raza (r)

Members of the UAE national team have urged the ICC to step in and arrange regular fixtures with Test nations after they were added to the ODI Rankings.

On Friday, the 12-team rankings were expanded by the sport’s governing body to accommodate the UAE, Nepal, Netherlands and Scotland after they retained or won ODI status until 2022.

With matches played between May 1, 2015 and April 30, 2017 being weighted at 50 per cent and games played after May 1, 2017 weighted at 100 per cent, the UAE sit 14th in the standings with 18 points, 10 adrift of fellow Associate nation Scotland.

Since regaining ODI status in 2015 following their World Cup qualification in New Zealand and Australia, the UAE have played 27 ODIs with 10 of those coming in 2018 during the ICC World Cup Qualifiers.

In their last ODI, they made the world take notice after they stunned hosts Zimbabwe by three runs (D/L method) for their first triumph over a full member. In the same tournament, they pushed West Indies all the way before they fell to a defeat to the two-time World T20 champions.

Like most Associate nations, the UAE have not had much opportunities to test themselves against the likes of Australia or England and only face them in global competitions.

But while the UAE’s Ahmed Raza insists it’s a good step to be included in the ODI rankings, the spinner believes the ICC and teams like Pakistan must support the Associate nations more considering they are using the world-class facilities in the Emirates regularly.

“It’s a good move. When Dougie (Brown) joined as head coach, his first words were to try and be the best Associate team by 2019 and I think we are very much on track for that. This is something for everyone to see and if the ICC give us more games against Test nations, obviously if we win a couple of those games, the ranking improves.”

He added: “If you look at Pakistan, they will play two T20s against Scotland and those kind of fixtures should happen more often. Pakistan are in England and they will tour Scotland as well. It will be the same for them later this year (when they play in the UAE). I feel they should be playing against us as well. That should be the idea that ICC should impose on these teams.

“If you’re using our facilities in the UAE, Pakistan should appreciate that and play more games against us. They could play one or two ODIs before their series which would help them as well. This would help us in boosting our rankings. Whenever we played Pakistan, we gave them a proper fight in the Asia Cup and it wasn’t a walk in the park. It would also help our individual rankings as players as well.”

UAE captain Rohan Mustafa agrees with Raza that it’s a boost for UAE cricket and that teams visiting the country should play the national team.

“It’s a good step,” he said. “We are now in the ODI rankings and if we perform against other nations who have ODI status, it will be very good for us as we can improve every day.

“I think it’s quite easy as every country has to come and play here in the UAE since Pakistan are holding their series here. We have a lot of opportunities and would love to play Test nations. Maybe even we can play against Ireland or Afghanistan one day in the future. It wouldn’t be a surprise if we play extremely well against Test countries.”

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Dougie Brown has played a significant role in the rise of the UAE cricket team

Denzil Pinto 29/05/2018
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Dougie Brown with his players

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.

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