Cricket-UAE trio
From right: Mudassar Nazar, Robin Singh and Andrew Russell during an interaction with the local media on Monday. Image Credit: Duane Fonseca

Dubai: India and Pakistan may be arch rivals in cricket, but two of the finest cricketing minds from either country have come collaborated to use their knowledge and experience to help UAE cricket take that big leap.

The UAE have been associate members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) since 1990 and have competed in two ICC World Cups (1996 and 2015), but fuelled by a hunger to take its sport to the next level, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) seems to have staged a casting coup. While former India allrounder Robin Singh was appointed ECB’s Director of Cricket last February and is also tasked with coaching the national teams, Pakistan’s Mudassar Nazar returns to the UAE as ECB Selector and Head of National Academy Programme. Nazar was a key member of the team that launched the ICC Global Academy at Dubai Sports City.

The pair will put their heads together to cultivate a culture of cricket along with Andrew Russell, the National Development Manager of the ECB.


“One of the goals is to make sure we qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup and I’m not talking about the T20 World Cup but the 50-over World Cup,” said Singh, who has coached the national sides of Hong Kong and the USA in the past and is the batting coach of multiple Indian Premier League champions Mumbai Indians.

“Some of our goals are to play the next T20 World Cup, the next 50-over World Cup, the Women’s World Cup qualifiers and the U-19 World Cup and I think we have the ammunition and strength to do that. We have to make sure we play well going forward because there are no shortcuts, absolutely no shortcuts. We want to ensure that we have people that are fit and totally committed.

“It’s nice to have Mudassar. He’s been here in the past and has a lot of experience so it will be of great help to take things forward,” Singh said during an interaction with the media.

It’s nice to have Mudassar. He’s been here in the past and has a lot of experience so it will be of great help to take things forward

- Robin Singh, ECB’s Director of Cricket

Nazar’s knowledge and experience in nurturing talent is immense - having designed and implemented programmes targeted at identifying and developing youngsters in his role as Director of Development at the Pakistan Cricket Board, apart from numerous coaching stints.

“I’m very happy to be back here and am happy looking at the structure that have been put in place over the years,’’ said the former Pakistan great. “There are quite a few comprehensive programmes in place in the U-19 set up. This year, there is a lot of emphasis on the U-19 because of the World Cup qualifiers which are happening in the UAE, so we are looking forward to doing well and the main thing is to prepare well for the tournament.

“Looking further down from there to other age groups like the U-16 and the U-13, we would like for those age groups to be a feeder system for the national team.”

Singh, meanwhile, believes the UAE has made a lot of progress over the past year or so with its cricket, and it is imperative the momentum is carried forward. “I think we are in a good space to challenge any of the other Associate nations and going forward even beat them,” Singh added.

“We are not here just to compete, we are here to win. There’s no question of competing and I’ve said this again and again when we practice and play we are not here to compete, we are here to win. It’s as simple as that.

“You don’t achieve anything by coming second, so we need to definitely focus and make ourselves the No.1 Associate country going forward, that’s the first step. Of course it’s a process and it will take 1-2 years, but I want to give the players an attitude and perspective that when we play, we are as good as anybody else,” he added.

- The author is a sports journalist based in Dubai