Emirates Cricket Board plans to develop the game are set to continue by launching an inaugural five-tournament ‘UAE Cricket Leagues’ series, which begins on Sunday.
Over an 11-week period, between March to September, the Leagues will bring together all four councils – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai and Sharjah – to compete in Twenty20 and 50-over formats in boys, women’s and men’s categories. This will be played through a 28 match-schedule across the country.
“Emirates Cricket is very excited to launch the UAE Cricket Leagues,” said Zayed Abbas, Emirates Cricket spokesperson.
“We have a number of successful stand-alone tournaments in our National structure and calendar already, however we were also very aware of the need and opportunity to replicate the successful domestic leagues, of other full members, here in the UAE.
“After lengthy discussions with our Councils we conceptualised and implemented this series, which will bring the main categories and formats under one competitive, unified structure, one where the UAE’s four Councils will compete for a National Trophy, and ultimate glory, in T20 and 50-over formats of the game.”
“We are delighted with the support we have received from the Councils, and thank them for their commitment to the success of the Inaugural Leagues as well as to its future.”
We're REALLY excited about this one!— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) March 24, 2018
INAUGURAL #UAE #Cricket Leagues launch TOMORROW! Action gets underway with the U16's tournament!
More about the Leagues 👉 https://t.co/Q1BGj79Kpf
&👇 for the opening U16 tourny & upcoming U19.
🇦🇪 🏏 #FutureStars #BackYourEmirate pic.twitter.com/hPgFj2Iuef
Previous Under-16 and U-19 tournaments have provided the platform for their search in identifying players for upcoming international competitions and this year will be no different.
“Another very important aspect is that the Leagues create a best vs best from each Council, which will provide us with our primary vehicle to integrate with Emirates Cricket’s National Team selection and talent identification process,” added Abbas.
The U-16 tournament will be played from Sunday until Saturday, March 31, while the U-19 will compete in the 50-over series from April 2 to 7.
For the first time, there will also be a men’s T20 National League scheduled mid-April, followed by the men’s 50-over league as well as the T20 event in September.
The Herald, Zimbabwe’s most prominent daily newspaper, branded the UAE Cricket Team a “rag-tag team of amateurs” after Dougie Brown’s side ended the country’s 2019 ICC World Cup qualification hopes on Thursday.
The headline, which prompted Brown to respond with the Tweet below, came after the UAE produced a fine performance to win by three runs (D/L) at Harare Sports Club and gain their first major victory in 15 one-day international encounters over a Full Member team.
Zimbabwe needed to beat either the West Indies or the UAE to reach next year’s cricketing showpiece in England and Wales but were beaten by Brown’s men, while Afghanistan turned over Ireland on Friday to end their chances.
Thanks @HeraldZimbabwe… I quote… ‘rag tag team of amateurs’ @EmiratesCricket Nice use of language to describe us… Sorry you didn’t qualify for the WC but at least give us some credit for how we played! pic.twitter.com/vhNhZNgSid
— Dougie Brown (@dougie1brown) March 23, 2018
UAE captain Rohan Mustafa believes his team could have won more matches if they had a fully-fit squad for the Super Six stage.
The UAE bowed out of the World Cup Qualifier on a winning note with a historic three-run victory over Zimbabwe on Thursday. It was their first win in all formats against a Test-playing nation and only triumph in the second round of the 10-team tournament after falling to Scotland and Afghanistan in their previous two matches.
But having been encouraged by his team’s performance throughout the entire competition, Mustafa insists they would have registered more positive results if they had all players fit.
“It was a good tournament for us,” the all-rounder said. “We were in the same situation as Zimbabwe in Division Two World Cricket League where we were almost out of the tournament but needed to win our remaining games to stay in contention.
“We came to Zimbabwe and reached the Super Six stage, so it is a great tour for us. We were thinking of games that we could win but we had players injured and it cost us a lot. Rameez was injured, Amir Hayat was not well and was Ghulam Shabbir. But we will work hard and come back.”
It is unclear when the UAE will play their next match this year but Mustafa, who was found guilty of breaching the ICC Code of Conduct and fined 15 per cent of his match fee along with Zimbabwe batsman Sean Williams, said they will take a lot of self-belief that they can beat any team on their day.
“We can take a lot from this match and with it a lot of confidence,” he said. “It shows we can beat good teams. Zimbabwe are one of the best teams in the tournament and it was a great learning curve for us. Guys will take confidence from this and will help us in the future.”