UAE players strike a pose at the ECB press conference to formally announce and introduce contract players. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News

Dubai: Some of the top cricketeers from the UAE national squad have welcomed the Emirates Cricket Board’s (ECB) decision to introduce a proper contract system for players in the country.

On Wednesday, the ECB formally paved the way for professional cricket in the UAE with the announcement of a central contract roster featuring 12 players. Of these, eight players have been handed a full-time contract for a two-year duration, while the remaining four will be on an annual one-year term.

“It is never too late for a contract system. Players will come and go, but cricket will stay here in the UAE. I am glad that the ECB has come up with this contract system as we will be motivated even more to deliver at the top level of cricket,” left-hand batsman Rohan Mustafa told Gulf News.

“So far, the UAE has been involved with playing smaller cricketing nations such as Oman and Nepal. But now, due to the ODI status we enter a different level with opponents such as Scotland, Ireland and Afghanistan. The demands are more and there is no better way in taking our game to the next level than by getting dedicated contracts,” he added.

His team-mate and UAE wicketkeeper-bastman Gulam Shabbir says the contract system is a positive step in the right direction. “Now we will all be motivated to give off 110 per cent for the team. There is a change in us as we feel more confident of tackling the challenges ahead,” he said.

“With the contract system in place it is just all about cricket for all of us. We come here by 8.30 am and are totally engrossed in training and various allied activities which are available in helping us achieve a better level of play,” the 30-year-old added.

Earlier this year, Paul Franks was appointed interim head coach ahead of the team’s ICC Intercontinental Cup (ICup) and World Cricket League (WCL) 2016 campaigns, where the country start off against Scotland in Aberdeen next month.

The UAE squad is scheduled to depart on July 26 for a ten-day preparatory camp in Hampshire and Jersey before they commence their four-day ICup campaign from August 9-12, followed by the two-day 50-over WCL on August 14 and 16. All matches will be held at the Mannofield Park, Aberdeen, Scotland.

“The contract system is the best-ever motivation that we could have had as we embark on a long away tour,” Qader Ahmad said.

“As a team representing the UAE, we need to maintain our momentum so that we retain our ODI status. Scotland is going to be tough, but the wickets there will better suit me. My job is to give off my best and get as many wickets as I can so that we can return triumphant,” the 30-year-old right-arm medium fast bowler said.

Imran Haider, who doubles up wth his right arm leg spin and as middle order batsman, said it was like a “dream for every player” to have contracts. “Initially, we were always struggling for time to meet and train. Now there is no scope for any such excuses. It is a dream of every player to be professional. I can only see good times ahead for UAE cricket,” the 28-year-old former sales team member from Multiplex observed.

Waleed Bukhatir, Member, ECB and Chief Selector, said that the new measures will alter the image of the sport. “The level of cricket will improve and the sport will reach higher levels. One of our biggest challenges these days is the growing pool of top players who have been playing a good, steady level of cricket. We have the best squad with us at the moment and they will guide the UAE to more achievements and records,” Bukhatir said.



Full-time contract: Imran Haider; Mohammad Qasim; Mohammad Usman; Qader Ahmad; Rameez Shahzad; Rohan Mustafa; Gulam Shabbir; Mohammad Shahzad Manna.

Part-time contract: Ajmad Javed (Captain); Ahmad Raza; Mohammad Naveed; Shaiman Anwar.