England experience primes UAE hope Jonathan Figy for bright future

Opening batsman building on stint with Winchester College as he prepares for next month's Under 19 Asia Cup

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 05 AUGUST 2018. Jonathan Figy, a left hand opening batsman, has been called up for the UAE U19 after his first season in England. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Amith Pasella. Section: Business.
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Next month’s Under 19 Asia Cup in Bangladesh presents Jonathan Figy with the ideal opportunity to showcase his talent as one of the cricketing prodigies to emerge from the UAE.

Figy, who turns 17 on August 25, has been drafted into the squad following a successful first season at Winchester College in the United Kingdom. Winchester has even granted the opener leave to play in the eight-day continental tournament, which starts on September 28.

Indeed, Figy made an immediate impact after joining the school in Hampshire on a cricket scholarship last September. He amassed 1,027 runs – including four centuries – at an average of 64.2. His left-arm spin earned him 39 wickets, too.

Shortly thereafter, the left-handed batsman received a call from the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to join the age group squad in June. He joined the camp two weeks ago after arriving in the country for the summer holidays.

“I was really excited when I received a call from the ECB to join the squad for the Asia Cup, because it is a big opportunity to play against established cricketing nations on the continent,” Figy said.

“Obviously I want to make a good impact on the big stage. I hope all the work I’m doing with the national team and the experience of playing in England will come in handy.”

Born in Dubai to Indian parents in 2001, Figy gained attention not long after he had enrolled at Zayed Cricket Academy eight years ago. By 2016, he had represented the national U19 side at the ICC World Cup pre-qualifiers in Malaysia, where he aggregated 137 runs in four innings.

He would also have played in the U19 Asia Cup pre-qualifier in Kuwait last October if the tournament had not been postponed. By then, though, Figy got the call from Winchester.

“Playing a full summer in England was a great learning experience,” Figy said. “The conditions are a lot different to the UAE."

For one, there is plenty of grass on the wicket, he pointed out. And with the grass being wet a lot of the time – due to rain – the ball moves a lot, especially in overcast conditions.


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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 05 AUGUST 2018. LtoR: Cricketers Yodhin Punja and Jonathan Figy. Yodhin is a fast bowler and has got a recall to the UAE senior national team pool, and Jonathan, a left hand opening batsman, has been called up for the UAE U19 after his first season in England. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Amith Pasella. Section: Business.
Could Yodhin Punja, left, and Jonathan Figy take UAE cricket to new heights? Antonie Robertson / The National

"It’s quite hard [to play] as an opener," Figy said. “I had to really restrict my strokeplay and grind out the runs at the beginning of the season.

"The early games were a bit of a struggle, but towards the middle and latter part I started scoring a lot of runs.

“Most of the games were friendly and traditional fixtures," he added. "We played in an U17 tournament but couldn’t qualify for the main division after losing in the final. But overall, it was a good experience for me.”

That Figy is determined "to do even better next season" after his coaches gave him the thumbs up for his recent performances shows he is ambitious and dedicated to his craft.

And being one of just two U19 players – along with Fahad Nawaz – to receive an invitation from coach Dougie Brown to train with the senior national team proves he is on the right track.

All this can only mean good news for UAE cricket in the long run.