Rameez Shahzad's England stint will help him become a 'polished cricketer', says UAE head coach Dougie Brown

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In England: Rameez Shahzad

UAE head coach Dougie Brown has ‘no doubt’ that Rameez Shahzad will return from his England stint later this summer as a ‘more polished’ cricketer.

The 30-year-old signed a short-term deal with Philadelphia, who play in the Durham Cricket League in the north-east of England, in his bid to get as much playing experience as possible ahead of the UAE’s Asia Cup Qualifiers in September.

And Brown believes it’s a positive step by Rameez that will only benefit his all-round game.

“I think it’s a really good move,” said the 48-year-old. “The more opportunities players have to experience different opportunities abroad, then I think is really really good.

“Rameez has been there before since he studied in the UK when he was younger. I think he’s finding it much colder and even people who live in the UK are finding the temperatures cold in that area where he is living, but it will be really good for him.

“He will have gone away knowing exactly what he wants to work. The whole idea of going to the UK, is to improve himself and become a better individual. I have no doubt that Rameez will be a more polished cricketer on the back of his experience in the North East.”

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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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