News that the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) are set to announce plans of expanding their Inter-Emirate competition with men’s and women’s categories is another positive move by the country’s governing body and one that really shouldn’t be a surprise.
It’s been three years since the ECB launched their first Inter-Emirate tournament, in April 2015, with Abu Dhabi reigning supreme in the Under-19 competition. It was the start of a new road back then and since then, only the Under-16 competition has been added to the schedule.
With the best talents of Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Ajman battling for glory, it is more than just being crowned champions of the Inter-Emirate tournament. This is a chance for the ECB to see what talent there is in the UAE, identify the best and groom them for upcoming competitions.
It has taken time, but the last three months has shown that the hard working is paying off. Just in November, the UAE won all their three matches to qualify for the Under-19 Asian Cup for just the second time.
And then earlier this month, the UAE were celebrating another triumph when their U-16 side were crowned Asian Cricket Council’s Western Region champions on home soil.
But as with any other sporting team, it’s crucial to remain competitive and continue planning.
With the platform already there at youth level, the ECB will be hoping that transitions into the men’s and women’s categories. The ECB are set to officially announce the 2018 competition next month, it will likely follow the same footprint as the U-16 and U-19 events.
That bodes well for the domestic cricketers who are dreaming of playing for the UAE. You only have to visit any ground or empty car park to see the sheer numbers on a weekend who have a passion for the game, but are yet to be noticed.
The Inter-Emirate tournament could be just that opportunity. Of course, they will need to make their respective emirate’s squad and then impress in the competition, but it’s a chance to catch the eye of the UAE officials of those who could go on and play for the national team one day.
As for the women, the move to introduce their own competition will be a huge boost to attract females to the game.
Despite few domestic tournaments, the UAE continue to create the headlines and rise in international cricket with their latest triumph seeing them qualify for the World Twenty20 qualifiers in July.
An annual competition will certainly improve their chances of developing as a player, although it might take time to attract new followers to the game.
But with players aiming to impress and ECB looking to create a pool of talented cricketers for future competitions, it’s a win-win situation for all.
Emirates Cricket Board’s attempts to get more players battle ready for UAE duty look set to continue with plans of expanding the Inter-Emirates tournament with men’s and women’s categories.
The competition has been a permanent fixture on the UAE cricket domestic calendar since 2015 when the Under-19 event was first held followed by the Under-16 tournament 12 months later.
Representing their respective emirate – Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Ajman in a round-robin league, it is the first stage of getting noticed by the national team selectors of a potential.
And following the success at youth level, Mazhar Khan, general manager of Sharjah Cricket Stadium and ECB administrator, believes it’s a good move to open the doors to adults.
“Domestic cricket has to be strong for any teams to develop and this is a big move forward,” he said. “We know that there are many domestic competitions being held but this is a different way of choosing the best players from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman. By having a regional inter-emirate tournament, it’s a very good idea and this will be an elite tournament that will give ECB the opportunity to pick the players for the national team hopefully.”
Rameez Shahzad's unbeaten 121 guides UAE to four-wicket win against Scotland - Article - Sport360 https://t.co/392SzIF4Y2— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) January 24, 2018
Although plans are yet to be finalised, the men’s category will be played in a 50-over competition which will involve members of the national team, while the women’s event is set to be a 20-over tournament.
In previous years, the ECB have identified the best bunch of players who have impressed and shortlisted them for a training camp ahead of representing the national team at upcoming U-16 and U-19 tournaments. The formula has been a success, with the U-19s qualifying for the Asia Cup last year.
The U-16s were also crowned Asian Western Region champions in December, on home soil.
This weekend, Dubai and Sharjah will be among the two Emirates that will host their trials for hopefuls. The U-16 and U-19 competitions will continue to run and with previous trials attracting big numbers, Khan believes 2018 will be no different.
“There is a lot of excitement with parents, schools and academies as it’s a new Inter-Emirate tournament,” he said.
“All of them are supporting this initiative and I’m sure all the matches will be closely-fought. Since it’s a Emirate tournament organised by the Emirates Cricket Board, I’m sure every person and every team will want to put on a good show.”
For more than a decade, Sudhakar Shetty has been training the UAE’s stars of tomorrow but yet still finds time to travel to India to help underprivileged kids to not only play cricket but have a better life.
Just last weekend, Shetty was passing on his knowledge as Maxtalent Global Sports’ head coach in Dubai but for the next few days Mumbai will be his home, opening the doors for Indian children.
As chairman of the Maxtalent Trust Programme, giving back to the community is very close to Shetty’s heart. In this visit, his Trust has teamed up with SVKM School who will donate 40 bicycles to Adivasi kids so that they don’t have to walk up to 7km to their school.
“I have always wanted to create an awareness in helping kids whenever we came on tour with the Maxtalent kids,” said Shetty. “Last year, we took some of the boys stay in our hotel and give them a feel of what life is like and a reality. They have never come to Mumbai and for them it was a great experience.”
He added: “This visit will be another milestone. It is our dream, vision and goal to bridge the gap by helping underprivileged kids engage and understand what life is all about that will make their lives easier.
“Whenever we come on tours, it will always be our aim for Maxtalent Global Sports to stay and interact with them as cricket is a sport that can bring us closer.”