Darjeeling target silverware in Thailand to celebrate 50th anniversary

Easier said that done as Dubai-based club are drawn in challenging group for next week's Chiang Mai Sixes

Dubai, UAE - November 4, 2017 - The Darjeeling Cricket Club chased during a warm up match for the GCC Sixes tournament - Navin Khianey for The National
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The UAE’s oldest amateur cricket club hope to begin their 50th anniversary celebrations with a trophy when they play at the Chiang Mai Sixes next week.

Darjeeling, the Dubai-based club, will have their work cut out at the six-a-side tournament in Thailand, though.

They have been drawn in a group that includes a side that is made up of a few former Bangladesh Test captains, including Naimur Rahman, who led Bangladesh in their first Test, against India in 2000.

As such, Stuart Matthewson, the Darjeeling spin bowler and tour manager, says the Darjeeling side, which include part-time cricketers from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and one flying in from New Zealand, have revised down their expectations.

“It is our 50th anniversary and we would like to win some silverware,” Matthewson said. “Winning the cup, we don’t really have a chance, but the shield is a realistic target.

“This is our main event of the year. From a club perspective, we have supported the [Chiang Main] tournament for 32 years, one of three teams to have featured in every tournament.”

The Chiang Mai competition involves sides from most of cricket’s established nations, as well as teams from Bahrain, Greece, Indonesia and Japan.

The tour is the main feature of Darjeeling’s annual calendar, and carries special significance this year as the club celebrates its half-century.

Later in 2019, Darjeeling also have their own home six-a-side event planned at the ICC Academy, followed by a gala dinner on the QE II, which is also 50 this year.

“In some clubs’ histories, 50 is a tiny number, but for a transient country such as the UAE where people come and go, the Darjeeling legacy has lived on and has become an institution in cricketing circles,” Matthewson said.

“From humble beginnings in the sandy wastes on the outskirts of a growing Dubai in 1969, before the forming of the current UAE, the club now has a strong membership with a passion for fair play and youth development.

“Today we continue to enjoy our cricket at the ICC Academy, as our current home ground, and play at various other grounds across the UAE both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”