Marvels ILT20
Marvels players celebrate a dismissal during their seven-wicket win over Pearls in the ILT20 Development Tournament. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: With an abundance of home-grown talents at their disposal, Emirates Cricket Board is now looking at taking the youth to the next stage, which in turn will help UAE achieve the full member status.

To reach this goal, the ECB has adopted a two-way strategy: The first one is to give aspiring talents a chance to stake their claim in the ILT20 league by creating an ILT20 Development Tournament and the second is introduce them to longer formats by offering them two-day games.

Talent development programme

“A tournament of this magnitude before the ILT20 league gives hopes to lot of youngsters, who are eager to showcase their talents and get selected to the league and make a name for themselves,” Mudassar Nazar, UAE interim coach and Head of National Cricket Academy told Gulf News.

The talent development programme began in 2009 when the ICC Academy started in Dubai. The infrastructure in the country grew at a rapid pace, which also played a big role in more home-grown talents coming into the UAE set up, both in the men’s and women’s national teams, in recent times. It is a welcome change from the past as players from the subcontinent migrate and play for the UAE.

“We had just four turf grounds all over the country in the past, while we have 60-plus now. That tells you how much cricket has developed with all the infrastructure in place and all youth coming through. The Under-16 and Under-19 players are making the real headway in this part of the world. We don’t need to bring players from the other parts of the world anymore. We have enough home-grown players to build a very strong side.”

Other options available to score

More than half the UAE national side has young home-grown players and Mudassar is now focusing on adding a new repertoire in their game, that is to build an innings. This facet of the game is key in the One-Day Internationals and the players need to rotate the strike and build an innings, especially in the middle overs when the field is spread.

“We need to develop both in batting and bowling. To achieve a target, the players think that they need to hit fours and sixes all the time. They need to use the field to pick up twos and threes. The game hasn’t gone that far with these guys. More they play these kind of tournaments, the more they will realise that there are other options available, except just hitting sixes,” added the former Pakistan all-rounder, who has faced some of the best bowlers in the world during his hey days.

“The bowlers play a lot of T10 and T20 cricket. So they are not exposed to the longer version and are not fit enough to bowl 10 overs in a 50-over game. That’s another stage, which we need to conquer. I have proposed to play a two-day event, let’s see how we gear. Hopefully, ECB will make it possible.”

In the first few days of action, Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels recorded impressive wins. Six team compete in a round-robin format with the top top four sides at the end of the group stage will progress to the semi-finals. The final will be played on October 10.

The tournament is aimed at providing a potentially life changing opportunity to UAE players with 13 spots still up for grabs in the DP World ILT20 Season 2.

Rohan Mustafa
Veteran UAE batter Rohan Mustafa played a match-winning knock for Thunderbolts against Braves. Image Credit: Supplied

Robust player pathway

“We stated a robust player pathway six or seven years ago, giving the junior players the opportunities to showcase themselves in senior cricket, not only at the domestic level, but also through our UAE U-19, who have done well at the World Cup. These players have gone on and pushed on themselves at the national team, which is an encouraging sign. We feel, the more they get exposed on what an international game would look like, the better they are prepared when they eventually make the UAE team,” said Andy Russell, Emirates Cricket Board’s Development Manager and Tournament Director of the ILT20 Development Tournament.

Russell feels that the teams should show a level of consistency in order to stake a bigger claim on the world stage. After scoring their first win in the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia last year, UAE missed out on the qualification for the 50-over World Cup this year. Similarly, despite winning the Plate title in the Under-19 World Cup, UAE colts missed the mark narrowly.

“I am disappointed with not qualifying for the Under-19 World Cup. We were just seven runs away from qualifying, Nepal bowler took a hat-trick. We have a good group of players coming through and steps are being taken at the National Cricket Academy, where 64 junior players at under-16 and under-19 levels are getting looked at. Now we are aiming to bring them at under-13 level. The goal is to do constantly well at the junior level and senior levels. Then we can start pushing for full member status. That’s the ultimate goal.

The scores:

ILT20 Blitzers beat ILT20 Marvels by seven wickets. ILT20 Marvels 114 all out in 18.1 overs (Aayan Afzal Khan 24 not out, Basil Hameed 20; Uzair Khan 3-14, Muhammad Zubair 3-25) ILT20 Blitzers 115 for 3 in 16.4 overs (Usman Khan 68 not out, Ali Abid 18; Muhammad Zuhaib 1-18).

ILT20 Pearls beat ILT20 Dynamos by 19 runs. ILT20 Pearls 151 for 8 in 20 overs (Aryansh Sharma 63, Zawar Farid 26; Sanchit Sharma 2-25, Vikum Sanjaya 2-35) ILT20 Dynamos 132 all out in 19.4 overs (Samal Udawaththa 28, Muhammad Shahdad 23; Zawar Farid 4-20, Adhitya Shetty 3-27).

ILT20 Thunderbolts beat ILT20 Braves by five wickets. ILT20 Braves 165 for 4 in 20 overs (Asif Khan 87 not out, Junaid Shamzu 31 not out; Shahbaz Ali 2-38) ILT20 Thunderbolts 168 for 5 in 19.3 overs (Ansh Tandon 45 not out, Rohan Mustafa 43; Haider Ali 2-31).

ILT20 Marvels beat ILT20 Pearls by seven wickets. ILT20 Pearls 121 all out in 18.2 overs (Lovepreet Singh 25, Aryansh Sharma 22, Khalid Shah 22; Muhammad Zuhaib 4-17, Aayan Afzal Khan 3-13) ILT20 Marvels 122 for 3 in 17.2 overs (Mayank Choudhry 47, Rahul Chopra 31 not out; Adhitya Shetty 1-16).