The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) plan to arrange more international matches for the UAE to play against Test nations following last week’s Twenty20 clash with Australia.
The UAE put on a spirited display in Abu Dhabi but lost by seven wickets to the Baggy Green in what was the first-ever T20 international between the two sides.
It was a significant milestone for the ECB and the national team, who have not had many opportunities to test themselves against major Test countries in an official international on home turf. This is despite the UAE being home to various elite competitions including the PSL and Pakistan’s home Test matches.
And the ECB are hopeful that playing against the likes of Australia, South Africa and even Pakistan could be a more regular thing for the UAE in the future.
“We have plans to host more games next year and are already in talks with New Zealand or Australia in either playing T20s or ODIs,” Zayed Abbas, ECB board member and official spokesperson, told Sport360.
“We are also looking at the hosts, which is Pakistan, in order to get those fixtures with them. We have always had good relationships with the full members and they said they are here to support us. It’s a good thing to have, especially the ICC, giving us the international status. We are going to that direction to have more international matches whether it’s an ODI or T20.”
One of the most memorable day in my cricketing life! I would like to thank our fans for all the support and love. And special thanks to @CAComms for playing ICC - International Cricket Council T-20i match. This wouldn't have been possible without the support of @EmiratesCricket pic.twitter.com/iqH041Doa0— Rohan Mustafa (@rohanmustafa88) October 22, 2018
The fixture against Australia had been classed as a warm-up but just five days before it, the ICC granted it as an international following the support of the Pakistan Cricket Board and Cricket Australia.
Abbas thanked both boards for their support after revealing the idea came up during dinner with officials of the respective boards.
“At first, it was meant to be just a friendly and everyone was happy with that,” he added. “I was having dinner with the management of Australia and Pakistan and said ‘why don’t we make it an international match?’”
“Everyone agreed. We closed it right there and then and it was one week before the match.”
He added: “You can build these things by building relationships. Having the right people at the right place, we made it happen. To secure a deal with one of the strongest cricket nations in the world on very short notice was down due to our very strong relationship that we have built over the years.
“On behalf of Emirates Cricket Board, I would like to thank Cricket Australia, Pakistan Cricket Board and the ICC for making it happen.”
The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) announced the 13 UAE national players who have been awarded new two-year central contracts.
Skipper Rohan Mustafa is among the cricketers to have been handed a deal while Ashfaq Ahmed and Amir Hayat, who made their debuts in December have also been rewarded for their consistent performances.
It is the second time that the ECB announced their roster. In July 2016, the ECB named their first-ever central contracted players, marking the beginning of a new chapter in cricket in the country becoming professional.
With the players now training daily five days a week, the UAE have had success on the field. They retained their ODI status until 2022 while also beating a Test nation for the first time when they defeated Zimbabwe in the World Cup Qualifier.
Waleed Bukhatir, ECB member and chief selector, said it is a “very exciting and crucial time for Emirates Cricket.”
“We are extremely pleased to deliver on our goal, and promise, to extend more players contracts, to make these contracts more lucrative (to the player), and to bring in to the team a group of players that now have the opportunity to embed themselves into the game,” he said. “This will assist in our mandate to build, and strengthen UAE cricket, not only for the next four-year ODI cycle, but for many years to follow.”
Very pleased to confirm #UAE #Cricket's Central Contracts Player-Roster through to 2020.— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) October 25, 2018
Congratulations to all players & let's make #UAE #Cricket GREAT 👊 🇦🇪 🏏
All details 👉 https://t.co/SBlirfH9AS@ANIBDXB @tykasports pic.twitter.com/Rmdtj9yPhn
The governing body confirmed that any contract renewals will be based on performance.
Bukhatir added: “It is imperative we continue to assess each player’s performance and their continued role in the team. Therefore, we have implemented clear and concise programmes that will monitor and manage performance as well as pay due attention to how our players are incentivised; financial reward, performance recognition, (and) personal and professional development.”
Contracted players: Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri, Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Adnan Mufti, Muhammad Usman, Ghulam Shabbir, Ahmed Raza, Qadeer Ahmed, Amir Hayat, Muhammad Naveed and Imran Haider
Chief executive David East will leave the Emirates Cricket Board at the end of December.
East has been with the ECB for six years after arriving in 2012 having held the same role with Essex. The former wicketkeeper-batsman has played an instrumental role for the governing body by introducing professional contracts for its full time players, and establishing a strategic partnership for high performance with the ICC Academy in Dubai.
The 61-year-old also played a key part in attracting and delivering major events to the UAE such as the Under-19 World Cup, World Cup Qualifiers, IPL, T10 Cricket League, and working closely with the PCB whilst hosting its cricket in the UAE.
“I should like to thank our chairman, His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan for giving me the opportunity to lead Emirates Cricket over the last six years,” said East.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and believe that I have made a meaningful impact with the national team and the development of cricket in the country. The UAE has its highest ever ranking in the top 14 countries in the world for T20 and ODI cricket, and having won the ICC Global Development Award earlier this year, our rapidly growing development programme will continue to increase participation and help produce the next generation of UAE cricketers.
“I will leave with many fond memories, but am now ready to embark on my next challenge.”
Deputy ECB chairman Khalid Al Zarooni praised East for his hard work during his time in the Emirates. “We are most grateful to David for his hard work and guidance over the last six years. He should be rightly proud of his achievements with the Emirates Cricket Board and we wish him every success in the future.”