Former Pakistani bowler Aaqib Javed ended his four-year stint of the national team on Tuesday and leaves them in good stead for the future having developed and worked with a number of talented players during that period.
One, is Rohan Mustafa with the all-rounder being in fine form with the bat and ball both domestically and on the international stage in what has been a memorable year for the 27-year-old.
His feats include six half-centuries and one ton for Unicon and Alubond Tigers, as well as getting his hands on the prestigious UBL Twenty20 trophy for the latter in Abu Dhabi.
Donning the national colours, Mustafa has gradually grown to become a key player for the UAE.
His potential was there to see during the Asia Cup qualifier against Afghanistan in Bangladesh where he stole the show with a 77-run knock and a three-wicket haul in the 16-run triumph.
It’s a vast improvement for the Pakistan-born cricketer who despite making his international debut in 2007, was in and out of the UAE squad.
A member of last year’s World Cup party in Australia and New Zealand, Mustafa had initially been overlooked for the 2016 World Twenty20 qualifiers in Scotland. But an injury to veteran Saqib Ali earned him a place in Javed’s squad although he fared poorly with the bat with just 17 runs and two wickets to his name.
Eager to rediscover his form, Mustafa seeked advice from Javed and paid tribute to the former UAE coach, who did not take charge of his final training session yesterday due to personal commitments.
“It was quite hard for me when I first started representing the UAE because I was in and out of the team,” he said, who won the Best Cricketer Award for Dubai Cricket Council at the Shyam Bhatia Awards.
“But the one thing I learned from him was that he helped me improve my mindset. When we were playing against the stronger teams, he said to me, don’t focus on the movements of the bowler, just focus on the ball because that’s the most important thing. He told me to look at things differently when approaching games because the mindset is important in sport.
“I stuck to that advice and the results were there to see especially in the Afghanistan win in the Asia Cup and during my domestic games and that is something I’m grateful for. He really spent a lot of time not just with me but with other players on how to improve. I consider him as a friend and not a coach.”
The Emirates Cricket Board are still searching for Javed’s successor but Mustafa insists whichever man comes in, the team are eager to achieve more success.
“We will continue working hard. Of course, everyone has their own way of working with players but we’ll be ready to give our best for the new coach.”
Batsman Rameez Shahzad, who will qualify to represent the UAE later this year, after completing the four-years residency requirement, lauded Javed’s contribution but said the team must move on.
“When he first came here, cricket in the UAE wasn’t in the best of conditions but now our status has now gone up in the world and that’s a credit to him,” he said.
“He has changed the UAE squad mentally and has made us a formidable force.
“It’s sad to see him go but we’ll continue to strive and work hard and we are looking forward to working with the new coach. It’s going to be different not having him around because he has really good coaching qualities. For sure we’ll miss him because you can say that he’s our friend.”
A former Pakistan international, Nazar has been at the forefront of the Academy’s development since its launch in 2009.
During his tenure Nazar has coached thousands of students at the high performance facilities at Dubai Sports City, which now includes the newly opened PowerBase gym and Cricket Cage.
Nazar, who played 76 Test for his country and 122 ODIs, also doubled up as the UAE’s batting coach since 2014.
“The opportunities I have had through being the ICC Academy’s Head of Cricket Development and utilising its world-class facilities to be able to coach and educate some of cricket’s best junior and senior athletes has ultimately brought me to this new role as the Pakistan Cricket Board’s Director of Academies,” said Nazar.
“I would like to thank Dubai Sports City and the ICC Academy for their continued support and the outstanding contribution they have made to the development of cricket. I have no doubt the Academy, its coaches and staff will continue the sterling work we have already managed to achieve.
“I now look forward to contributing to and giving back to Pakistan Cricket which has given me so much.”
With the assistance of ICC Academy and Dubai Sports City staff, Nazar has seen the launch of The Warriors, a training programme dedicated to supporting young players, aged between 13 – 18 years’ old, that are hungry to learn all elements of the game. He has also overseen the introduction of the Junior Warriors, as well as Cricket Cubs and The ICC Academy Schools programme.
Nazar has played a vital role in The ICC Academy Schools programme, which brings cricket coaching to more than 15 schools across Dubai.
The Schools programme has also allowed students to test their skills against other school teams as far and wide as the UK, Nepal, Kenya and Sri Lanka.
He now leaves for the PCB role, a scalp its chairman Shaharyar Khan is delighted to have secured.
“I am pleased to have Mudassar on board to work with us as Director of Academies,” said Khan.
“Mudassar brings a wealth of experience in this role. I am particularly thankful to the ICC Academy and Dubai Sports City for allowing Mudassar to work with us.
“Our association with DSC is time tested and Mudassar’s immediate release by DSC on our request is a demonstration of our cooperation.”