Abu Dhabi T10 youngster Ethan D’Souza on 'incredible' learning curve

Teenager is one of the youngest players ever to be drafted for tournament and looks to make most of his time with Team Abu Dhabi

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Ethan D’Souza seems to always have a smile on his face. That is likely to remain there for the foreseeable future with the 16-year-old becoming one of the youngest ever players to be drafted into the Abu Dhabi T10.

D’Souza was taken in by Team Abu Dhabi for the T10 tournament later this year. He will join the 16-player squad in season six of the competition that takes place at the Zayed Cricket Stadium from November 23 to December 4.

For the dashing left-handed opener and off-spinner from the Zayed Cricket Academy, the opportunity is “incredible”.

“It’s going to be an incredible experience to share the dressing room with renowned professionals of franchise cricket,” D’Souza, who made his debut for the Abu Dhabi team at Emirates D20 in June, told The National.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to it. I want to soak in the good moments as much as possible and learn from them, particularly their lifestyles both on and off the field, their training and preparations ahead of a game.”

D’Souza will spend two to three weeks with the likes of Australian Chris Lynn, Fabian Allen of the West Indies, Afghanistan quick Naveen ul Haq, and England’s Adil Rashid, Phil Salt and Jamie Overton.

“This is the biggest moment of my cricket after representing the Abu Dhabi team,” he said.

“It will be interesting to learn from the technical staff and players on how they prepare game plans and assess the team’s performances after every game. For me, to be in the side is great and I wish I get an opportunity to get on to the field.”

D’Souza was playing a practice match at the Zayed Cricket Stadium at the time of the draft but it got over by the time local players were announced.

“I didn’t want to think too much about the draft but at the end of the game, my teammates were able to watch the part when my name was announced,” he said.

“My teammates hugged and congratulated me. I was very happy and enjoyed that moment.”

D’Souza has been playing cricket since he was three. His father enrolled him at Zayed Cricket Academy when he was seven-and-a-half.

“It was fun at first,” he said of his early days in cricket. “I just enjoyed playing with the other boys. At 13 it started to change and I wanted to play seriously and at a better level.

“I started to work harder to improve my game all round. Fortunately I was provided with the break earlier than I thought, to represent the academy team.”

D’Souza’s parents John and Sharmila have been his biggest supporters, with his father guiding his cricket journey and mother helping him in his studies.

“My parents haven’t put pressure that I have to get high marks in my exams and that’s helped me to spend more time to develop my cricket. I have managed to balance my studies and sports, though,” he explained.

D’Souza’s performance, particularly his fielding, in the Emirates D20 came for high praise from all teams. That earned him the nickname “Tiger”.

He played all 12 games, taking nine catches and was involved in two runs outs, one of which was a direct hit. That was in addition to around a dozen runs he would save for his team almost every game.

“In the Emirates D20, we reached the final and that’s an achievement we had never got before. So that was a real good moment in my first appearance at this level,” the teenager said.

“I enjoy fielding and want to save as many runs as possible for my team.”

One of the reasons for his athleticism is that he also plays football and basketball.

“Being quick on the field has just come from playing matches, and the football and basketball I play when I don’t play cricket.”

D’Souza, a Grade 11 pupil at Abu Dhabi Indian School, is in the UAE U19 pool and working towards his goal of making it to the final squad.

“Everyone from my parents, the academy management, coaches and fellow colleagues as well as members of the Abu Dhabi men’s team have encouraged and supported me in my cricket journey,” D’Souza said.

Updated: September 30, 2022, 6:12 AM