Former Nottinghamshire all-rounder Paul Franks will rejoin the UAE for one-month to aid the country’s bid to compete at the 2016 Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
Franks, who retired from first-class cricket at the end of the summer, was part of the UAE’ coaching staff in the build-up to and during their World Cup exploits in New Zealand and Australia earlier this year.
The 36-year-old, who will captain Nottinghamshire’s Second XI this year will also assist coach Aaqib Javed’s team’s fixtures against Hong Kong in the Intercontinental Cup and matches against an England XI and their development side, the England Lions.
“It’s about personal development,” Franks told the Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club website.
“I thoroughly benefited from being involved with them extensively prior to and during the World Cup campaign.
“The opportunity to go back was muted, the Club see the benefits, I certainly see the benefits and it’s something I’m looking forward to.
“It’s branching out a little bit, learning about different conditions and different people and bringing it all back to Trent Bridge.
“We’ve always been encouraged to explore opportunities and the chance to work with a slightly changed group of UAE players from the World Cup is something I’m excited about.”
— Barny Read (@BarnabyRead) October 29, 2015
The UAE lost all of their matches at the World Cup and have since been thrashed by Ireland in their Intercontinental Cup opener and came away from their World T20 qualifiers in Scotland having won just one match.
It marked a thoroughly disappointing few months for the UAE on the back of their most successful two years in history, qualifying for its first World T20 tournament and the World Cup for only the second time.
Franks is optimistic that the UAE will be improved moving forward, citing the squad’s transition in recent months as an opportunity to get back to winning ways.
“It’s just come out of the cycle of the last World Cup which was very much the end of an era for UAE cricket,” said Franks.
“There were key players, very good players that retired because they were the wrong side of 40 and couldn’t realistically keep driving it forward.
“It’s very much at the start again, some rebuilding has happened, now they need to hit the ground running where they can and make sure they are learning along the way.
“There has been a turnover of players and the squad now has a younger dynamic.
“Some of the senior cricketers are still there but they’re looking to integrate new players whilst also remaining competitive.
“The first few days will be a fact finding mission on the guys I don’t know, but it didn’t take too long last year and hopefully it won’t this year.
“They need to get up-and-running in the I Cup – and to help the UAE pit themselves against England is definitely something I’m looking forward to.”
Danube Lions will make history by becoming the first UAE domestic side to play against international opponents next month.
Danube Lions, one of the top teams in the country, will test themselves in limited-overs practice games against Nepal on November 11 in Dubai and Papua New Guinea three days later in Abu Dhabi.
The fixtures are part of the one-year partnership between Danube Lions and ICC Academy with the aim of improving the team on and off the field.
Both games will act as warm-ups for the two nations in their preparations for the ICC World Cricket League Championship and Intercontinental Cup matches.
Under the reins of new coach Dominic Telo, the Danube players, including Riaz Afridi, who turned out for UAE in their practice game against Pakistan earlier this month, have been put through their paces three times a week at ICC Academy. So far, results have been positive with two victories out of two in the Elite Cup in Dubai.
They will be looking to carry that confidence into the two practice games and Danube owner Anis Sajan insists performance is more important than the result.
“I’ll be very honest, I’m not looking too much into the result,” said Sajan. “The most important thing is the performance…how we play in those two games.
“Matches are not just about winning or losing, it’s about what you learn from these games, and I hope the players can gain a lot of experience from these two matches.
He added: “Obviously I am very happy that we have been given an opportunity to rub shoulders with international players and we are putting in lots of hard work three times a week for three hours for more than three weeks now.
“My players are sweating it out during training as it requires hard work to play against international players. For sure, it will not be a walk in the park and we expect it to be a tough test for the players.”
After seeing his side triumphing on many occasions, including the prestigious Al Hamad and Bukhatir trophies, Sajan wants his players to make the most of the opportunity.
“The most important thing is that if players want to learn, they need to gain experience by playing against international teams,” he said.
Impressive bowling spells by Man of the Match Azhar Mohammad and Nasir Aziz saw Alubond Tigers rout The Blues by nine wickets in Elite Cricket Cup in Dubai.
Mohammad (4-15) and Aziz (3-18) were in top form with the ball, sharing seven wickets at the Fairground Ovals.
– PAKvENG: Rashid narrowly fails to earn England draw
After being bowled out for 94 against Ibsons in their opening match, The Blues batsmen had no answer to Azhar and Aziz and were eventually all out for 102.
Although it was a small target, openers Shahid Siddiq and Rohan Mustafa went about their chase in a hurry. Siddiq hit two sixes and three fours for his 35 from 39 balls before he departed.
Gulam Shabbir cut loose from the first ball. Two sixes and six fours saw him remain unbeaten on 40 as Alubond reached their target.
Meanwhile, Danube Lions won their second successive match with a three-wicket win over Globelink West Star Shipping.
Globelink put to bat first, reached 208 with Ranjith Mani leading the way with a 79 from 84 balls. Sanjeev Martan added 33.
Danube were 20-2 at one stage, but Thrindu Mendis played a match-winning knock of 75. He and Shahzad Manna (20) put on 53 runs for the third wicket and then, along with Adnan Mufti (57), he added 68 for the fourth-wicket.
With Mendis retired, Amir Hayat smashed 10 from four balls to guide Danube to victory.