UAE coach Aaqib Javed welcomed the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to allow associate teams play Test cricket, saying that is now the target for the Gulf nation.
On Thursday, the world’s governing body introduced the ICC Test Challenge which will take place between the lowest ranked Test team and the winner of the ICC InterContinental Cup (from 2015 to 2017), which is usually contested by the top Associate teams, including the UAE.
The inaugural competition will see the two teams play two Tests home and away in 2018.
“The ICC has done a wonderful job by announcing this opportunity to allow associates to play Test cricket,” Javed told Sport360°.
“There’s always been an encouragement from the ICC to allow associates to be given the opportunity to play World Cups and now being able to play a Test match is a wonderful idea. This is the only way more teams will be able to play at Test level. It gives us hope and it’s something we can work hard to achieve.”
Asked if four years is enough time to prepare for a potential Test match, the 41-year-old replied: “Yes definitely. We can strive towards that target.
“I think four years is a good enough time to prepare and hope we can do well. We already play four-day matches (in the InterContinental Cup). It’s a good format and it’s good news for associates especially for us.
“We are still 25 per cent behind the top teams. Previously we used to practice two and half hours but for the last six to eight weeks, we have been training five hours a day from 17:00 to 22:00.
“We want to move forward and there’s no reason not to look up and get ready for the biggest challenge,” said Javed, who played 22 Tests for Pakistan.
In the last edition of the Intercontinental Cup (2011-13), UAE finished fourth with 60 points behind Scotland, Afghanistan and winners Ireland.
Meanwhile, the ICC board has agreed to retain the format of the 2014 World Twenty20 for the 2016 tournament to be held in India.
The board also ratified the appointment of Australia coach Darren Lehmann and the West Indies coach Ottis Gibson as the representatives of national coaches on the ICC Cricket Committee following the completion of South Africa coach Gary Kirsten’s term.
The UAE’s World Twenty20 performances are promising signs for next year’s 50-over World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand, according to the ICC.
The UAE may not have won a game in the World Twenty20 but they certainly gave a respectable account of themselves. The same can also be said about the other five ICC associate member countries- Ireland, Afghanistan, Nepal, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.
These teams took part in Bangladesh, as part of the governing body's efforts to expand cricket beyond the 10 Test-playing countries.
The Netherlands enjoyed an outstanding tournament, cappeb by their humiliation of England by 45 runs in the Super-10 stage. Meanwhile, unfancied Hong Kong fulfilled their dream of getting a big scalp with a two-wicket victory over Test team and host-nation Bangladesh in the first round qualifying stage.
ICC’s Development Manager Tim Anderson said the Netherlands' victory over England, their second in two meetings after also beating them in the 2009 World Twenty20, was a good sign for next year's 50-over World Cup which will feature UAE, Ireland, Afghanistan and Scotland
"The associates were provided with an opportunity at the World Twenty20 and we are pleased with their showing, and will make sure they do well in next year's World Cup," said Anderson. "The Netherlands performed very well and their win over England in the Super-10 stage showed the smaller teams have the talent to upset bigger nations."
Each team has been allocated $1 million in funding and will train in the host countries ahead of the tournament.
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be the UAE’s second World Cup tournament. Their last participation was back in 1996 were they played five matches and managed to win once against Netherlands by seven wickets.
UAE’s Maxtalent Global Sports teams returned home winning all their matches in the MGS Challenge Cup held in Oman recently.
The junior most member of the touring party, nine-year-old Ammar Badami stole the show in the under-11 category and was adjudged the ‘outstanding player of the tour’.
He scored 142 runs in three games at a fantastic average of 71.
The MGS under-13 team won all four games and the under-11 outfit emulated the seniors winning all three games.
The MGS Challenge Cup cricket tournament a brain child of Maxtalent Global Sports International events, is currently played in South Africa, UK, India, Qatar and in Oman.
The T20 tournament was held under the aegis on Oman Cricket and featured five teams – Indian School Al Wadi Kabir, MCCC A, Boscher Olympic Center, MCCC-B & Maxtalent Global Sports (UAE).
UAE Cricket in brief:
Here is the latest round-up of the best cricket matches and stories to happen recently in the UAE.
Emmad bowls Danube to a big victory
Emmad Ali’s four for eight off 3.1 overs was the highlight of Danube Lions’ nine-wicket win over Nucaf Tellicherry in the Dubai Cricket Council (DCC) Chairman’s Cup 30-overs-a-side tournament at the Fairground of the Dubai Men’s College.
Emmad led the rout with Shahzad Ahmad (2 for 6), Ali Raza (2 for 5) and Naveed Haider (2 for 14) chipping in to help Danube skittle Nucaf for a paltry 50. Their batsmen then scored those runs in just 8.4 overs for the loss of one wicket. Naeemuddin Qazi (22 not out) and Naeemuddin Aslam (21 not out) were the top run-getters runs for Danube.
In another match Phoenix Medicines busted Boom Boom by 103 runs.
Batting first Phoenix rode on half centuries from Pervaiz Nazir (62) and Hafiz Kaleem (55) and some useful contributions from Mohammed Qasim (34) and Ayub Inayat (27)to post 260-8.
For Boom Boom only Imad Mushtaq (38) and Mohammad Farhan (23) could manage a decent score as they were restricted to 157 for 9 from 30 overs with Mohammad Asif (4-18) and Mohd Qasim (2-29) doing the damage.
Elsewhere, Seven Seas upstaged Al Faraa and Ibsons trounced Farooz by nine wickets.
Khurram and Shahzaib power Wings’ flight
A captain’s knock by Shahzaib Hassan helped Wings XI book their place in the final of the Friendly Cup 50-over tournament with a comprehensive six-wicket win over Danube Lions at the Fair Oval ground in Dubai.
The tournament is being held under the auspices of the Dubai Cricket Council.
However the man of the match award went to Wings’ Khurram Khan for an unbeaten 44 and the crucial wicket of Sami Ullah.
Wings now await the winners of the second semi-final to be played between Yogi Group and Fly Emirates to decide who will be the champions of the Cup.