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Evolution of Cricket in the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) became an associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) way back in 1990. The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) was established in 1989 and the UAE became an associate member of the ICC the very next year. Cricket now in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is governed by the Emirates Cricket Board, overseeing all cricket activities in the Emirates including the 4 major councils; Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai and Sharjah. However, since the establishment of the board, their journey has been a stop-start one. 

World Cup Debut

Image result for 1996 cricket world Cup UAE national team

Then in 1996, the country made its first appearance alongside the likes of Kenya and the Netherlands. They lost as many as five games out of the six that they played. That was an eye-opener for the board and the management in terms of the required infrastructure to improve the level of the game and the quality of the players. After making their World Cup debut in 1996, the nation failed to make it to the next four World Cups between 1999 to 2011.

Upping the Graph Since 2000

With a view to improve the quality of cricket, the board started investing in domestic cricket at the turn of the century. UAE won the ACC Trophy (Asian Cricket Council) Trophy on four consecutive occasions between 2000 and 2006, they were runners-up in the other three times the tournament was played; 1996, 1998 and 2008. UAE then made its first entry into Asia Cup tournaments in 2004. They followed it up with another Asia Cup appearance in 2008. Slowly they were getting to play in bigger tournaments and getting familiar with the competitive atmosphere in cricket.UAE’s U19’s played their first ICC World Cup in 2014, when the UAE hosted the international tournament. UAE’s U19 team competed in 2015’s ACC Premier Tournament.

Making it to Every Major ICC Between 2014-2018

Image result for 1996 cricket world Cup UAE national team
(Photo Source: https://www.icc-cricket.com/ )

 In 2014, ICC gave them ODI status till 2018. They made their first World T20 appearance in 2014 and followed it up with their second World Cup appearance in 2015. In 2016, they played in the Asia Cup, their second after 2008. After the ICC decided to make the 2019 World Cup a 10-team tournament, UAE is waiting for their next entry into a major ICC event. Meanwhile, in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, cricket fans grew in numbers and the game of cricket spread like wildfire. 

Hosting IPL 2014

Image result for sharjah cricket stadium IPL 2014
Photo Source: ( https://www.bcci.tv/ )

2014 was another landmark year in the history of UAE cricket and its board. After making their debut in the World T20 that year, they got to host a part of the Indian Premier League owing to general elections in India. The opening ceremony was held in the UAE on 15 April 2014. The opening 20 matches were held in the UAE at three different stadiums in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah with the tournament returning to India on 2 May. This happened after India’s previous Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde denied the provision of security the league demanded as it clashed with the general elections. 

Also Read: T10 League 2019 Round-Up: From Awards to Change In Rules in Season 4

Entry of T10 League

T10 League 2019 Playoffs Matches, Team Predictions and Preview

UAE was slowly beginning to gain momentum as a cricket crazy nation when the next big thing happened. In 2017, the Emirates board decided to launch T10 League, a franchise-based 10-overs competition per side. Owned by Indian company T10 Sports Management, it is the first-ever internationally approved 10-over cricket league after the ICC sanctioned the league in 2018.

The first season in 2017 saw as many as six teams participating in the league. Kerala Kings, Maratha Arabians, Pakhtoons, Team Sri Lanka, Bengal Tigers and Punjabi Legends were the teams. Kerala Kings won the first edition of the league. The second season in 2018 saw an entry of three new teams. Northern Warriors, Sindhis and Rajputs made their maiden appearance in the league. All the matches in the first two seasons were played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Also Read: ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2019 Points Table and Team Standings

The T10 League 2019 turned out to be the most successful season in its history with the tournament getting an even bigger stage this time. The venue was shifted from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi and was a visible difference in the attendance. The final was attended by over 20000 cricket fans marking a record attendance in the history of the league. Having earned a recognition in its first two seasons, the league saw an entry of four new teams this season. Delhi Bulls, Qalandars, Deccan Gladiators and Karnataka Tuskers. 

Women’s Cricket 

The UAE women’s national team made their international debut in the Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) Women’s Tournament, which was played in Malaysia in 2007. Taking time to grow, their next big leap was to win the title of GCC Women’s T20 Championship victors at its inaugural tournament played in Oman in late 2014. Currently, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium is the home for the Women’s team who practice their regularly. 

Also Read: T10 League 2019 Day 10 Results: Arabians Lift Title, Gladiators Finish Runners-Up, Tigers Third on the Points Table

Roadmap for the Future

With all the hard work that has been put so far behind the growth of UAE cricket, one assumes that there is still a long way to go before the game becomes’ THE GAME’ to be played in the country. As of now, UAE’s national team has only three players from the Emirates and the aim is to develop a steady path of progress for the others to get a hang of the game. The game still has a low-participation rate in the country and the aim is to aware the general public more about the game.ECB now has the resources to take professional coaching into local schools and provide playing opportunities that was limited before. Talks of promoting grassroot cricket to talent scout camps are also on.

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