Dubai: Five teams will play international matches in the UAE next month, adding to the country’s growing reputation for having the best cricketing facilities outside of the Test-playing nations.
Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Kenya and Afghanistan will all be in action at various venues in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in World Cricket League (WCL), ICC Intercontinental Cup and Twenty20 International matches.
Scotland arrived here on Tuesday as they will also make use of the facilities to prepare for their matches.
Because of the facilities and good weather here at this time of year, the UAE has played host to many international sides in the past, particularly those, like Pakistan, who are unable to stage matches on their home grounds for security reasons.
Mazhar Khan, the Administrator of the Emirates Cricket Board, told Gulf News: “With five nations playing in the UAE, we have a busy time during the next month. It is indeed very gratifying that we are able to provide venues and facilities for nations to play their tournaments.
“The UAE today has the best facilities for not only playing matches, but also to train. The weather too during this period will be ideal for cricket.”
The UAE’s role in providing the best facilities has come in for much praise recently, with many nations acknowledging the country’s role in lifting the standard of international cricket.
Khan added: “These nations that will be playing here will indirectly help to lift the standard of our domestic cricket too. All these nations will prepare for their international matches by playing practice matches against our best cricketers here.
“The practice matches will be held at the two Oval grounds of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Global Cricket Academy, Abu Dhabi Zayed Cricket Stadium, Sharjah Cricket Stadium and also at Al Dhaid turf grounds.”
All the nations will be playing in the longer version of the game through the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup, the one-day format through the Pepsi WCL One Day International championship 50-over matches and Twenty20 International matches.
Afghanistan and Scotland will play in two T20 matches in Sharjah on March 3 and 4 and two one-day matches on March 6 and 8. “A lot of people from Afghanistan stay in Sharjah and hence it will be a treat for them to see their countrymen play Scotland. We expect a large turn out for these matches,” said Khan.
The four-day Intercontinental Cup match between Afghanistan and Scotland will be played at Abu Dhabi from March 12 to 15. The UAE national team will also be playing on the same dates in the same competition against Ireland at Sharjah, followed by two 50-over matches on March 18 and 20 and one T20 match on March 21 in Sharjah against the same opponents.
Kenya and Canada will also be playing their Intercontinental Cup, WCL championship and Twenty20 matches at Dubai.
“The top two teams from the Pepsi WCL championships can qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015. The ICC Intercontinental Cup winner will receive $254,000 [Dh933,000] and the runners-up can win $100,000 and hence all the matches are of huge importance for the associate and affiliate nations playing here,” said Khan.