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UAE cricketers may come under contract system

ECB Chief Executive David East aims to lift standard and stage inter-emirates events

Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News
Shadeep Silva bowler of UAE celebrating after getting a wicket of Paul Stirling of Ireland during the Pepsi ICC Intercontinental Cup at Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Gulf News

Sharjah: The Emirates Cricket Board may soon contract players to play for the UAE national team, its recently appointed chief executive David East has revealed.

With cricketers here being unable to get adequate time for practice due to their job commitments, plans are on to create a centralised contracting system, he told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.

East said: “One of the key issues is the lack of availability of players due to work commitments. This is a matter which we will look towards solving to give our coach the best possible team to work with all the time. We will have to move towards some form of centrally contracting key players that is going to make the real difference to the team.”

Last week, the UAE provided a stern test to an Ireland squad made up of professional cricketers, but succumbed due to lack of adequate training. “By having players on the ECB’s pay roll under our contract we will have the ability to ensure that they can practise very well and perform at the highest level without having the challenges of having to take time off work.”

East, who was a former Sussex English County player, is delighted with the standard of cricket in the UAE. “I have been in charge for just under three months now and it has been a steep learning curve, but an exciting one and I am thrilled by the way cricket is played here. The standard of cricket here is very high. Cricket is based around the individual regional councils, which is great, because that is the way it has been run for the last 30 years. What we are looking to try and do is to integrate the work of the councils, particularly from a development point of view, so that we can encourage the best culture in people playing at all different age groups.”

East also revealed that plans are afoot to stage inter emirates cricket tournaments. “We want to make sure we get the best versus best playing in all tournaments. We are certainly looking at an inter-emirate competition. This plan is very active at the moment in its preparation and consideration. It would be a very useful tournament to have to ensure that we do have this funnelling approach to bring in players at the top.

Talking about the prospect of high-profile matches like Dubai versus Abu Dhabi, East said: “Our vision would certainly be for that to happen, but whether it can happen immediately or not is a matter we will discuss as it involves financial support, sponsorship and logistics. From a purely developmental perspective, staging an integrated nationwide competition at various different levels is best practice around the world and is something, obviously we would want to make sure is happening here.”

East is also in constant discussions with the ECB’s Domestic Cricket Development Committee (DCDC). “The work DCDC have already done has been extremely good. Their work is in progress and I am closely working with this group through the board so that we can actually maximise the impact they are creating.”

East welcomed the impact of many nations and English County teams using UAE facilities to stage their international matches. “Our gates are open for everyone. Everybody in world cricket is aware that the UAE is a great place to come and play in. Pakistan have been playing here due to the domestic difficulties in staging cricket in their own country and we welcome them on a regular basis. The county teams come here for preparations and practice and that is something which we want to encourage. One of the advantages of having county teams here is the quality of cricket they bring with them. It provides the opportunity for the UAE team to play against them as well. By virtue of playing against better opposition, our own players can get better as well.”