Cricket in the United Arab Emirates
By: Carrie Stewart / Arab America contributing writer
One of the most popular sports in the Middle East is cricket, the world’s most popular ball and bat game, played between two teams of eleven players each on a field. In the center of the field is a 22-yard pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The following article will examine the history and details of the game and team in the United Arab Emirates.
Rules of the Game:
In this game, there are 9 people strategically positioned around a pitch along with a wicketkeeper and bowler. The bowler throws the ball overhand, bouncing it and the batters try to hit it. Similar to baseball, the batters try to score runs and the bowling team tries to get the batters out.
Once all the batters are out, the teams switch positions. The inning ends when both teams get all the batters on the other team out. The team that scores the most runs after a set number of innings wins.
There are several benefits to playing cricket including stamina, endurance, balance, muscle building, heart health, and flexibility. There are other social benefits such as team building, communication, cooperation, learning how to cope with winning and losing, and general social interactions.
History: UAE Cricket
Cricket was introduced to the UAE by the British in 1892. The game spread during World War Two. The popularity of the game declined after independence in 1971; however, when South Asians began settling in the country, they brought with them a desire to play cricket, as a result, Domestic tournaments started in the 1980s.
The first national game that was played was in February 1976 against Pakistan International Airlines in Sharjah. The game was eventually abandoned due to rain. Since then, the UAE began to establish itself as the top associate side in Asia, though they often lost against the top teams in Europe and North America, this trend has continued to this day.
The current coach for the UAE cricket team is Robin Singh. He is a former player for India and he has coached the Indian Premier League’s Mumbai Indians since 2010 as well the Caribbean Premier League’s Barbados Tridents since 2013. He has also coached the Deccan Chargers.
When he was a player, he was known for his calmness and ability to do well under pressure. Robin Singh has also launched his own academy, Robin Singh Sports Academy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This academy aims at providing state-of-the-art facilities for young players.
There are 42 players currently on the men and women’s teams ranging from 15 to 43 years old.
It is not an easy process to be selected for the team. First, you get enrolled in the ICC Academy where coaches evaluate you performance. Then you may be given the chance to perform in open tournaments. If you do well here you may be asked to be in the trials for the UAE national team, then selected for the team.
The number one player on the team was Shaiman Anwar. He is a right-handed, top-order batsman. He made 67 runs and 50 balls in the UAE’s opening game against Zimbabwe in the 2015 World Cup.
Unfortunately, his career is tarnished by a guilty verdict resulting in an eight-year ban (given to him by the ICC in March 2021), which ended his career at the age of 42.
The current captain of the team is Ahmed Raza. He is a right-handed batsman who bowls slow left-arm orthodox. He is the son of Pakistani parents Shamim and Syed Zahid Kazmi. In December 2020, he was one of ten cricketers to be awarded a year-long full-time contract by the Emirates Cricket Board.
The team has had 19 games so far this season, the most recent against Hong Kong.
So far the UAE won 11 of its matches. They were supposed to play the United States on August 16th, but that game was abandoned due to rain.
There are three games left for them, the last on October 20th.
If you are interested in learning more about the sport and seeing some of the most talented people in the UAE, check out some games!
Visit our blog here!