Robin Singh confident UAE can compete with Ireland after 2020 washout

The pandemic wasn't the only disruption to hit the UAE director of cricket's plans

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Paul Radley. Sport. Cricket. UAE coach Robin Singh before the game between ECB Blues and Fujairah in the final of the Emirates D10. Friday, August 7th, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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UAE v IRELAND

All matches start at 10am, and will be played in Abu Dhabi

1st ODI, Friday, January 8

2nd ODI, Sunday, January 10

3rd ODI, Tuesday, January 12

4th ODI, Thursday, January 14

Few people could have foreseen what was to happen to the world this time last year, but the leading cricketers of the UAE might have at least felt a sense of foreboding.

A global pandemic that ripped a hole in the sporting calendar was just the latest in a line of challenges sent to test the national team.

First, the side was decimated by a corruption scandal at the end of 2019 which, 15 months on, has still not reached its conclusion.

Then a new-look team lost game time to far-out reasons. First, rain in Sharjah. Then, while on tour in Oman, the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

After that, they had a change of coach, with Robin Singh being brought in as the new director of cricket for the sport here, in place of Dougie Brown.

They won the first tournament on his watch, at the start of a qualifying campaign for an Asia Cup that might now never be played, and then the world went into lockdown.

For the majority of time that followed, Singh was restricted to his home in India, unable to make it to Dubai to be with his new charges because of the shutdown of air travel.

When he did return his time with the side was only brief, before he headed to quarantine in Abu Dhabi for his other job as part of the coaching staff of Mumbai Indians.

All in all, the former India allrounder enjoyed a 100 per cent record across the two teams his coached in 2020. The Western Region T20 in Oman won with the UAE. And the IPL, won with Mumbai.

Now, ahead of the UAE’s return to competitive action for the first time in nearly 11 months, he is back in bio-secure conditions again for the one-day international series against Ireland.

“You have got used to it, and those of involved in the coaching staff need to set the example,” Singh said of constant quarantining.

“However boring or tough it is, I think we need to lead from the front to make sure the players are OK and comfortable.”

The coach insists the new normal is giving the players a new perspective which does have positives, too.

“They have learnt that when you are together with people in a situation like that, you need to learn from others and help out others, too,” Singh said.

“You get to know people better when you are together a lot more. We don’t really get this sort of time together, even though we are a team.

“In situations like this, there is a lot more information that gets shared, and you tend to learn a lot more about people personally.

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In situations like this, there is a lot more information that gets shared, and you tend to learn a lot more about people personally

“You have a lot more time to reflect on your own game, you can share ideas, and come up with a lot more plans going forward. If we take the positives out of it, it can be good.

“It is new to people, but it gives you a different perspective moving forward.”

The new start on the field begins on Friday, when UAE start a four-match one-day international series against Ireland in the capital.

The last time Ireland took the field, they beat world champions England. Singh, though, says his side have nothing to fear going into the series.

“They are a team that have played at a higher level than the UAE team, but I don’t see our guys as being in any way inferior,” Singh said.

“Maybe they lack the experience, but I think we can compete really well. I think we can put up a really good show in this tournament.

“We are looking forward to it. We want to start with a clean slate. It is a new year, and we want to move forward, one game at a time.”

UAE v IRELAND

All matches start at 10am, and will be played in Abu Dhabi

1st ODI, Friday, January 8

2nd ODI, Sunday, January 10

3rd ODI, Tuesday, January 12

4th ODI, Thursday, January 14

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