It seems like only yesterday that Dougie Brown was appointed the new head coach of the UAE national team but as the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun.
Monday marked exactly a year to the day that Brown has held the role after being named by the Emirates Cricket Board as Aaqib Javed’s permanent successor following the 1992 World Cup winner’s exit in May 2016.
His appointment wasn’t really much of a surprise and no-one could question it either. As interim coach in his first three months, his record spoke for itself. A first victory in three-and-a-half years in the four-day format against Papua New Guinea – including an ODI series win – as well as triumphing in Oman were among his achievements during his 12-week stay.
While results were on the up, more importantly the players rediscovered their self-belief and confidence that was severely lacking by the time Javed departed. Only time could tell what Brown was capable of given the reins on a full-time basis, and he hasn’t looked back since.
The last 12 months have been nothing short of a remarkable journey. What started off as a first-ever away series win against the Netherlands in July, ended with their 2020 World Twenty20 qualification hopes still alive after breezing through the preliminary Asian Qualifiers in Kuwait last month.
Since the start of 2018, the UAE found themselves on the verge of losing their ODI status in the Division Two World Cricket League in Namibia, only to bounce back from consecutive wins to keep their hopes alive and book their place in the World Cup Qualifier.
And in Zimbabwe, they didn’t disappoint either. Chris Gayle was the difference as they put up a spirited display against World T20 champions West Indies, while also securing their ODI status until 2022 thanks to their Super Six qualification.
But one of the UAE’s most significant results came in their final match against Zimbabwe. Brown’s men had nothing but pride to play for, yet they defied the odds and made the world take notice by stunning the hosts in a three-run victory, which all but ended their qualification hopes for next year’s World Cup.
Hours after that historic game, Brown took to social media, labeling his team as ‘a special group of players’. Not for the first time, he lauded his charges but captain Rohan Mustafa and Co will be the first to admit their recent successes have been largely down to Brown and his coaching team.
His squad doesn’t consist of world-class stars like Virat Kohli or AB de Villiers but he has a crop of players who on their day can be formidable. His friendly character and willingness to offer tips and advice in a constructive manner is warmly received and in the last 15 months, his team has been playing cricket with a smile.
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