Closure of six top clubs will not affect cricket in UAE – ECB chief

Denzil Pinto 12:50 20/06/2015
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Glorious past: Wings SRT are winners of two Superstars T20 titles.

Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) chief David East insists cricket in the UAE will continue to grow despite some of the country’s top clubs closing down.

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Nucaf Tellicherry, Lanka Lions, Yogi Group, Wings SRT, Seven Seas and Farooq Club this week called it quits on the domestic circuit with perceived mismanagement, problems with player contracts and inc-reased costs among their reasons.

Their withdrawal is a blow for UAE cricket with Yogi Group and Wings SRT, in particular, often attracting ex-internationals with Zimbabwe’s Charles Coventry and West Indies’ Ryan Hinds playing for the latter last season.

Despite the teams’ impending absence – which East described as “disappointing” – he is adamant the game will move on without them.

“Different people have different reasons and that is a personal choice and we have to accept it and do our best without them,” said East.

“We don’t want teams to leave our domestic cricket structure.

“We always do our best to provide the best structure of tournaments here and ultimately it’s up to the owners of the teams whether they want to be part of this.”

Yogi Group owner Shiva Pagarani, who often brought Indian and Pakistani cricketers over, says he is closing down because of players 
being too greedy.

He said: “Players were becoming too expensive for their talent and demanded a lot of money. When I began the team in 1999, the players played because of passion.

“Now that’s not the case. I not-iced that the commitment level of players was not very good and that’s when I decided to stop. At the end of the day, the players were taking the team owners for a ride.

“From my point of view, I had no concerns with the ECB. I don’t blame them for this. They are doing their best to promote cricket.”

While Pagarani is hoping to bring back his team in 2017, he has called on the ECB and cricket councils to help regulate player contracts.

“The board and council should get involved,” he said. “Players move to other clubs even if they are on my visa and there’s nothing I can do. Maybe if the cricket councils get involved, they can be in charge of the situation.”

Wings SRT owner, Neeraj Ramamoorthy, whose side clinched two Superstars T20 titles, said his reason was down to mismanagement.

“There were no regulations and no proper domestic structure,” he said. “If the ECB can sort out a structure there’s no reason to not come back. If we look at all the ex-international players I had, sending them back was not an easy decision.”

East added: “The (clubs) have already gone on record to the press and said what their believed reasons are. 

“Some of the reasons were disappointing and bizarre but these are individual businessmen and some have invested high amounts of money, and if they are not getting the satisfaction that they want or the enjoyment, then you can und-erstand why they are doing this.”

Meanwhile, Danube Lions, one of the country’s most successful teams, has chosen not to play in any Ramadan tournaments this year because of player fatigue, but have said they will return for the new season in September.

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