The recent efforts of the UAE national cricket team have been recognised and they have managed to secure corporate backing as they embark on their journey to Bangladesh for the ICC World T20 Cup.
The Khurram Khan-led side, which leaves the country on Sunday to take part in the elite tournament, will be sponsored by OSN, the region’s leading pay-TV broadcasters. All of the UAE’s matches, as well as the entire ICC World T20 Cup will be telecast on OSN.
The UAE not only qualified for the T20 World Cup, but also became the first team in the country’s history to receive one-day international status by qualifying for the Cricket World Cup in Australia early next year.
A delighted Aaqib Javed, coach of the national team, welcomed the announcement, calling it another important step in the development of the game in the UAE.
When asked if the new sponsorship would mean extra pressure on the team, Javed said: “Not at all. We don’t see it as pressure, we see it as a motivation.
“It’s great to have a corporate sponsor for the team. You feel better, you feel proud, and you feel you are being rewarded for doing something good.”
Another UAE national team member, Ahmed Raza, said: “I don’t think we are under any pressure. We are all ready to make you proud, and make OSN proud.”
As team sponsor, the OSN logo will appear on all match and training gear of the team, for all home and away series in all formats.
OSN will also support the UAE women’s national team, the Under-19 and the Under-16 teams.
David Butorac, Chief Executive Officer, OSN, said: “OSN is committed to establishing its position as the region’s home of cricket and our support of the UAE national cricket teams demonstrates our efforts to truly encourage regional cricketing talent on an international scale."
National team skipper Khan added: “It is an honour to have OSN’s support as we step out to represent the UAE in the international circuit. We will do our best and look forward to playing more international tournaments.”
Zimbabwean cricketer Charles Coventry, now plying his trade here, believes the UAE has what it takes to become a big cricket nation in the future, and says he wants to take up coaching when he retires from the game.
The 30-year-old, famed for his remarkable unbeaten 194 against Bangladesh in 2009, is playing for Wings SRT XI in Dubai on a one-year contract, and is impressed with the country’s ambitions since arriving in January.
“I think UAE have everything available to them that can make it a big cricketing country,” said the right-handed batsman. “They’ve got the ICC Academy in Dubai, they have some lovely grounds and fantastic stadiums. I think with a little bit more management of their players and leagues, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
“A lot of the cricket depends on many of the expats playing over here, and it’s not too big with the Emiratis. It would be nice to see them playing. Who says the UAE cannot become a big cricketing nation?
“They’re not walking along the lines of Australia, England or South Africa but they can be up there with some of the best around with a bit of improvement to the structure of the game.”
It has only been five years since Coventry smashed his first century, and equalled the then highest individual score of 194 with Pakistan’s Saeed Anwar (against India in 1997).
Still considered an important player by Zimbabwe, Coventry said his country’s financial problems led him to play club cricket in the UAE.
“I have ties with a cricket agency in England, and they had ties with Wings (in Dubai) and that’s how I ended up here. There is a lot of cricket being played here which is nice as a player and we are playing cricket a lot which is good,” said Coventry, who won his first piece of silverware with Wings SRT XI in the Danube Test Series in January.
“At the moment there are some issues with the cricket (in Zimbabwe). It causes concern for all of us and obviously you need to havea job. At the moment I was only being contracted by Zimbabwe for six months of the year.
“For the other six months, you have to find something else to do. So when I got this opportunity (in Dubai) I took it. There is talk of staying here for longer and I am definitely up for a whole year but with the option of renewing.”
Nicknamed ‘Choppa’, the Zimbabwean was selected for his country’s World Twenty20 campaign earlier this year, but pulled out citing ‘personal reasons’.
“I will never turn my back on Zimbabwe. There is my side of the story and then there’s their side of the story. It’s not like I’m fighting with anyone there.
“I pulled out due to personal reasons and I don’t think it would be viable for me to go back to Zimbabwe at the moment. I’m in a good set up here. A good professional set up and enjoying it.”
Coventry says he is happy being a player but would not rule out a coaching job in the future.
“Definitely,” he replied, when asked if he had any plans to coach in the future. “I will be 31 this month, and for me I still want to play a lot of cricket. But that doesn’t mean I can't coach and play.
“I’d love to go into coaching after my playing career because cricket is my life. I love walking onto the field every day, being around cricketers, having fun with the players. I would still love to carry on playing.
“If something comes up coaching- wise then maybe I will go into coaching much earlier. It all depends on the condition of my body. I’m still quite fit and strong. If a coaching opportunity comes along I will grab the opportunity with both hands.”
Charles Kevin Coventry
March 8, 1983, Kwekwe, Midlands
Zimbabwe, Matabeleland, Matabeleland Tuskers, Westerns, Zimbabwe Cricket Academy, Wings SRT XI
ODIs – 821 (37 matches), T20s – 97 (9 matches), Tests – 88 (2 matches)
The Emirates Airline T20 Trophy returns to The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, on Friday March 21.
The tournament returns to the UAE venue for its fifth consecutive year, offering fans the chance to see world class cricketers from around the world.
Four teams are travelling to Dubai for the event: MCC, Lancashire and Sussex and a Kerela Premier League XI.
Within the competing teams are England Internationals Monty Panesar (MCC), Matt Prior (Sussex) and James Anderson (Lancashire).
MCC will also have legendary spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan representing them as they bid to win the coveted T20 trophy.
The event has become a regular fixture on the cricketing calendar in Dubai and is expected to draw big crowds once again.
General admission tickets to the tournament are 25dhs, while children under the age of 12 are given free admission if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
They are also a select number of premium shaded seats in the grandstand, available for 100dhs.
Tickets can be purchased from the gate at The Sevens ground which is located on the Dubai-Al Ain Road, just beyond Exit 29/30.
Fans are encouraged to bring blankets and umbrellas to the tournament, with entertainment provided both on and off the pitch throughout the day.
For any enquiries regarding the event, call the Promoseven Sports Marketing offices on +971 4 321 0008 or log on to www.emiratest20.com.