Chaya Mughal, the captain of the UAE women’s team, says she is thrilled for Mahika Gaur after the teenage fast bowler was selected for England.
The 17-year-old left-armer capped a rapid ascent through the ranks of English cricket by this week being named in their senior squad for limited-overs series against Sri Lanka.
As recently as the start of last year she was still resident in the UAE, where she was a student at Dubai College.
She was talent scouted at a coaching clinic held at Dubai Expo 2020 by staff of the English domestic side the Thunder, who are based in Lancashire.
She was a non-playing reserve in the Manchester Originals squad for the Hundred last summer, and subsequently left Dubai on a sports scholarship to attend school in the northwest of the UK.
This summer she was part of the Thunder first team, and has also featured for the Originals in the Hundred, playing as a domestic – rather than overseas – player.
Her elevation to the full England team appeared inevitable once she was picked for their A team for a series of T20 matches against Australia A earlier this summer. However, her selection so soon has caught some in the UAE by surprise.
Gaur has been part of the UAE team for over four years having made her debut in a T20 international in Thailand when she was just 12 years old.
In the time since, Gaur, who was born in England, has played 19 T20Is for the UAE, culminating in an appearance at the Asia Cup in Bangladesh last year.
Although Gaur is now switching allegiances, the captain of the side she is leaving behind says she wishes her success for the future.
Mughal believes Gaur’s progress to the top in a Test-playing nation so soon after leaving the UAE proves the progress the country is making in developing the sport.
“I am absolutely delighted and happy for Mahika Gaur,” said Mughal, who is the national team captain and women’s cricket development officer for Emirates Cricket Board.
“Her dedication and hard work are commendable. The UAE has indeed developed a strong reputation as a training base for cricket.
“We’ll be eagerly following her progress and wishing her continued success.”
Coincidentally, Gaur’s best bowling figures while playing for the UAE came against Sri Lanka at the Asia Cup in Sylhet last year.
She took 3-21 – including the prize wicket of Sri Lanka’s batting star Chamari Athapaththu – in defeat for the UAE.
England are scheduled to play three T20Is and three One-Day Internationals against the Sri Lankans.
“We have named a squad with a good blend of youth and experience and see this as an important series to test the depth of playing pool,” Jon Lewis, the England women’s coach, said after the squad announcement.
“We have some exciting, new young players coming in who we are looking forward to working with.
“Mahika is a very exciting talent. Left-arm swing bowlers of over 6ft tall are unique in women’s cricket. Mahika has shown consistently this summer that she is a threat with the new ball and we are excited to see how she performs at international level.”