Robin Singh's role as UAE’s director of cricket has come to an end.
Mudassar Nazar will take temporary charge of the national team for their next assignment.
Singh, the former India all-rounder who was appointed in February 2020, has overseen a miserable run of form that has jeopardised the future of the game here.
The national team will depart for the Cricket World Cup Qualifier play-off in Namibia later this week.
Because of their poor recent results, much is riding on the competition. There are two places on offer at the six-team event for the global World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in June.
Perhaps of greater significance is the need to safeguard one-day international status, which carries with it significant ICC funding as well as the guarantee of high-quality cricket for the next four years.
UAE need to finish in the top two out of a group of four that also includes Papua New Guinea, Canada and Jersey to maintain the right to play ODI cricket.
When the squad to tour Windhoek was announced on Tuesday morning, no quotes were attributed to the coach in the official press release, as is customary.
Singh was also missing from the side’s rain-affected practice match at The Sevens on the same day.
The ECB later said that Singh's stint has ended and Nazar, the former Pakistan all-rounder, will take over the reins for the tournament in Namibia. The board will start the hiring process for a new coach in the coming days.
The reason for Singh’s absence was initially unclear. Since his appointment, he had held an agreement with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to maintain his role as part of the Mumbai Indians coaching staff.
The Qualifier play-off is set to clash with the start of the Indian Premier League. However, rather than be excused to attend that event, the ECB have opted to discontinue Singh’s tenure altogether, after his contract ended.
It is understood his long association with the IPL franchise was part of the motivation for appointing him in the first instance.
ECB were in the throes of setting up the International League T20 at the time, and Mumbai entered a team into the UAE’s new competition. Singh was the head coach of the MI Emirates for the inaugural season of the ILT20, earlier this year.
ECB also saw value in the possibility of Singh helping UAE players get experience of the IPL. A number trained with IPL teams when that competition was displaced to the Emirates by Covid, with fast bowler Zahoor Khan, in particular, impressing Mumbai.
However, his extended absences at the IPL have long been a source of frustration for many in the UAE cricket community. A number of observers argued the role of director of cricket here deserves full-time commitment, rather than periods of coaching via Zoom.
Initially, after taking over a young national side that was showing great promise under the captaincy of Ahmed Raza, results remained strong.
A year ago, UAE cricket enjoyed one of its finest moments as they sealed qualification for the T20 World Cup in Australia in fine style at a tournament in Muscat.
That competition was sealed by a fifth win in a row against Ireland, which is an unprecedented run of success by an Associate side against a Test-playing nation.
Progress has been stunted in the time since, though. The team have been through three captains – Raza, CP Rizwan, and Muhammad Waseem, the latest incumbent – since August, and results have been adverse.
Although UAE picked up its first win at a T20 World Cup in the competition it Geelong, the side failed to advance beyond the first round.
Since last summer, the national team have played 27 games in the two limited-overs formats, and lost 20 of them.
The run has been characterised by performances in which the batters have appeared asphyxiated by a fear of failure.
During a period of 10 ODIs from November 16 to last week, they passed 200 just once. That run included scores of 71 – UAE’s lowest ever ODI total – 97, and 95-9.
The side’s morale was rock bottom, and they appeared increasingly unresponsive to his input. Tellingly, when UAE had Nepal 45-3 at the first drinks break in a crucial game in Kathmandu last week, they all had to decamp to the boundary rope to listen to the coach’s views. From then on, Nepal proceeded to make 248, before UAE were bowled out for 71.
Coincidentally, the man who Singh replaced in the role a little over three years ago was present in his absence at The Sevens on Tuesday.
Dougie Brown, the previous UAE coach, now runs the Rajasthan Royals Academy, which is based at the multi-sports facility on Al Ain Road.
Whether ECB will consider returning to Brown, who is resident in Dubai, as a long-term replacement for Singh, or look for someone new, remains to be seen.