Sharjah: Sharjah English School has become the first school in the Gulf region to have full-fledged turf wickets with a lush green outfield which can qualify to stage international matches.

Desert Cubs Cricket Academy (DCCA) took the initiative to set up such a facility to groom budding cricketers. UAE national team coach Aquib Javed, in the presence of Mazhar Khan, the Administrator of Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), inaugurated the turf wickets in front of hundreds of cricketers on Friday morning.

After the inauguration Javed bowled to young cricketers and expressed his appreciation of the quality of the wicket. Incidentally, DCCA has transformed the whole venue into a top cricket training complex

Speaking to Gulf News, Presley Polonnowita, Head Coach of the DCCA, said: “We have created four turf wickets at the centre and one astro-turf pitch. This is apart from the two turf, three astro and two cement wickets in the practice area where we train over 200 children per session with ten qualified coaches.”

Javed who is in search of talented cricketers to be groomed for the national team, said: “This facility will be a pathway to the national team.”

Presley, who is set to become a Level 3 coach after attending the Asian Cricket Council course recently in Bangladesh, said: “We have thus created 12 different types of wickets in one venue to groom players from beginners (under-10), dividing players into Under-11, Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 categories. There are even three bowling machines to sharpen specific skills with floodlights for night training. We give emphasis to fitness training with former Sri Lanka international player Dumindu Ariyaratne as our athletics coach. He strengthen knees and shoulders through various training methods needed for batsmen and bowlers.”

Dubai Duty Free is the main sponsor of the academy’s various activities. DCCA has coaching centres in Deira International School and Dubai College Jumeirah. DCCA will soon be hosting a 50 overs Under-19 tournament, inviting top teams from UAE to play matches on the newly laid turf wickets.