UAE women’s international Esha Oza says she has improved the mental side of her game after playing against England’s KIA Super League clubs last month in the UK.
Oza, 20, was part of the ICC Global Development Squad that travelled to England in July after being recommended by the Emirates Cricket Board for her outstanding domestic season.
The team, which consisted of players from Ireland, the Netherlands, PNG, Uganda and Scotland had a strong tour where they beat Surrey Stars twice (seven wickets and two runs) as well as Western Storm by five wickets. Their only loss came against Loughborough Lightning.
Although she didn’t bat as much as she would have liked to, Oza was effective with the ball, taking three wickets, including that of South African stars Lizelle Lee and Dane Van Niekerk.
“I didn’t bat as much as I would have liked but I scored an unbeaten 20 against Loughborough and hit the winning runs against Western Storms. Yet, batting against international stars and bowling to them is something I never imagined before,” she said.
“It was a really good experience and being on the same field was a fantastic feeling.”
She added: “The mentality of my game has improved a lot now and I know understand the importance of planning. We were told to plan out our innings and break the game in parts and play according to the situation. This really helped me understand how to play in different situations and how differently you have to play against different opposition.”
As well as the matches, the squad also undertook a biomechanics testing session at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) national performance centre and was mentored by former England women’s coach Mark Lane.
The initiative is a partnership between the ICC and the ECB, who hope it can provide exposure to teams outside the top-eight ranked sides who feature in the ICC Women’s Championship in their bid to make the World Twenty20Is more competitive in the coming years.
And Oza, who was the only UAE player in the squad, hopes this programme can be held regularly so that her other team-mates can improve their game just like how she did.
“Yes, I hope this can be done on a regular basis by the ICC,” she said. “It’s a great boost for the women’s game and opportunities like these will only take the game higher and higher.”
The UAE will take on Singapore in their opening clash of the Asia Cup Qualifier next month as they bid to reach the main event on home soil.
Dougie Brown’s side is one of six teams vying in the league format tournament in Malaysia for the lone qualification berth for September’s showpiece event in the UAE.
The UAE open their campaign against the minnows at the UKM Oval on Wednesday, August 29 before facing their toughest test on paper against Nepal a day later. They will then face Hong Kong on Saturday, September 1 before playing Malaysia and Oman in their final two league games.
Should the UAE finish in the top-two of the league stage, they will then play in the final on September 6 where a place for the Asia Cup is up for grabs.
If they do prevail, then the national team will be drawn in the same group alongside India and Pakistan in the main 50-over tournament which will be held between September 15 to 28.
The UAE will be aiming to make it successive qualifications to the Asia Cup after stunning Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Oman to earn their place in the 2016 edition in Bangladesh. Although they lost all their games in the group stage exit, they won many plaudits for the way they played against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.
After missing out on qualifying for the 2018 Women’s World Twenty20, Subha Srinivasan is determined to help the UAE qualify for the 2022 edition even if it means she has to prolong her playing career into her 40s.
The all-rounder was part of the squad that finished seventh in the Qualifier tournament in Netherlands last week as Ireland and Bangladesh advanced to the showpiece event in the West Indies later this year.
It means the UAE will have to wait another four years if they want to showcase their skills on the world stage when the tournament is held in South Africa in 2018.
Srinivasan will be 42 by that time but instead of calling it quits now aged 38, she is eager to carry on playing and help make UAE history by playing in their first elite global competition.
“Most definitely I want to continue playing for a long time,” she said. “Being in your 30s and playing cricket is difficult but I still feel I have a lot to give and I want to get fitter when bowling and batting. I just want to perform consistently in every game I play.”
She added: “I had a 15-year playing career but executing everything is a very challenging task. Performing consistently is the key to success. I know age is catching up with me but at the same time, I have to stay fresh in my mindset and continue to work. I want to help the UAE reach a world competition and it would be great if I could help them do it before I retire.”
Srinivasan showed why she is a key member by taking seven wickets in five matches in Netherlands in a campaign where they defeated the hosts twice in a week.
They were beaten by Asian T20 champions Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea in the group stage before falling to Thailand in the play-offs. But despite the stern competition and playing on European wickets for the first time, she believes the tournament was great learning experience for her team-mates.
“It was really challenging and we have been exposed to a level where we know we have to work even harder,” she added. “We knew what level of competition it is and it was a reality check to see where UAE cricket stands and what areas we need to work on.”