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The victorious UAE team celebrate after winning the Twenty20 qualifiers and booking a place in the World Cup to be held in Australia later this year. Image Credit: Courtesy: ICC

Dubai: The year 2022 has been a golden year for UAE cricket and Emiates Cricket Board’s (ECB) top official, Mubashshir Usmani, is hoping that the successes on the field will enable the country achieve a full membership status in the International Cricket Council.

Since the turn of the year, the UAE cricket teams have been flying high with the men’s team qualifying for the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia later this year, while they are the front-runners in the qualifiers for the 50-over World Cup.

However, the catalyst for the success is the stunning show by the UAE Under-19 team, who won the Elite Trophy in World Cup in the West Indies. The UAE women’s team are also in the global qualifiers for the Women’s World Cup, showcasing a well-rounded achievement across the various gamut of the sport.

Integral to securing the goals

“Alongside qualifying and competing in the ICC tournaments, we have our sights firmly set on achieving ICC Full Membership and these wins are integral to our securing this goal. We have a clear path and it starts with the vision of Chairman Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan [Minister of Tolerance and Coexistance],” Usmani, ECB General Secretary, to Gulf News in an exclusive chat.

The UAE, one of the Associate Nations, have beaten Test-playing nations like Ireland in the recent qualifiers in Twenty20 and 50 overs while the Under-19 team defeated Ireland in the Plate final after stunning another Test-playing nation and hosts West Indies in the semi-finals.

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Mubashshir Usmani, ECB General Secretary, is not willing to sit on the current impressive performances by the UAE team and hopes to take the team higher. Image Credit: Courtesy: ECB

“We thank our Board, the management, central executive team and all those involved in the UAE game are to be applauded for their commitment in helping ECB realise these success. We do celebrate these wins, [but] our upward trajectory continues,” he added.

UAE had a massive turnaround in fortunes after missing the last edition of the Twenty20 World Cup, which was shifted to the UAE due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UAE team used that disappointment to spark their dream by realising their goals one after the other.

Very successful event

“Of course, it was disappointing, especially with the Cup being played across our home venues. However, those emotions needed to be kept in check and be used to focus on the next goal. We are very proud that Emirates Cricket hosted a very successful event and showcased UAE’s expertise in putting on a world-class event,” Usmani added.

The UAE has numerous world-class infrastructure across all Emirates and it is only imperative to call the country the sporting capital of the world. And next logical step is that, such facilities and amenities translate into on-field performances. In order to have an organic growth in the UAE, the ECB is conducting various tournaments at the domestic levels. The Emirates D10, D20 and D50 have ensured that the local talents have the opportunity to showcase their skills.

“The Emirates Cricket’s D-series, which was launched in 2019, forms our flagship series and has proven to be very effective programme for our coaching and high-performance teams to encourage and foster a competitive domestic feeder pathway toward nation team selection,” Usmani said.

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The UAE have been one of the front-runners in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup League 2, qualifiers for the 50- over World Cup. Image Credit: Courtesy: ECB Twitter

Responding to a question on, what are the future goals for UAE cricket? Usmani listed a five-point programme.

1. Taking women’s game past regional domination and secure a place in top tier women’s tournaments and also attain an ICC ODI status apart from rolling out central contracts.

2. Identify up and coming talents in the UAE with several talent-hunt programmes

3. Strengthen the domestic league that will create a pathway for players to develop real-game skill sets and mental aptitude.

4. Focus on men’s game with central contracts, exposure to full membership, which will give them top-tier exposure on a constant basis

5. The UAE Twenty20 League, for which the start to be announced shortly, with many high-profile corporates buying the franchises and expects it to grow bigger and better over the years.

The UAE men’s team, who are in third spot in the table, will be resuming their journey in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 against Scotland and USA in Pearland, US, from May 31-June 4.