Mani's 'dream team' of all Emirati cricketers

Cricket board chief admits lack of UAE players has been ‘an area of deep concern’ and is confidently hopeful it will be resolved soon.

ABU DHABI // Dilwar Mani, the chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has spoken of his dream to field a national team of Emiratis. The team, currently under the caretaker management of Mudassar Nazar, is made up entirely of players born in the subcontinent who qualify to play for the UAE on residency grounds.

The last Emiratis to play for the national side were Fahad al Hashimi, the bowler, and the all-rounder Mohammed Tauqeer. But they have not played for the national team since February and no longer even play club cricket. The lack of nationals is replicated at the age-group level. The Under 15s were unable to compete in the Asian Cup in Nepal earlier this year because they do not have three Emirati passport holders.

Mani is confident the situation will be addressed. "It has been an area of deep concern but we will eventually overcome and have the Emirati youth involved in cricket," he said. "It is not very far from our ongoing plans. I have said it before and I say it again and again, in an ideal world, in my dream team, there would be 11 Emiratis playing and representing the UAE." Speaking at a press briefing at Zayed Cricket Club on Thursday, Mani announced a new directive that will require all players, teams, academies, indoor cricket centres, coaches and umpires to register themselves with their respective councils.

Cricket in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain will be governed by the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council; Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah under Sharjah Cricket Council; Dubai under Dubai Cricket Council and Ajman and Umm Al Quwain under the Ajman Cricket Council. Previously, any individual could arrange a corporate tournament and make money by securing sponsorship and charging entry fees for the teams. More important, the various academies - and the coaches - in the country will have to be registered with the ECB and any overseas tours, which are funded by charging the parents of the players, will have to be sanctioned by the ECB.

The move is designed, according to Mani, to "bring cricket under corporate governance and prevent it from commercial exploitation". "This process will make every regional council aware of the cricket activities taking place within their jurisdictions," Mani said. "It shall be the responsibility of the councils to ensure development in these jurisdictions and encourage participation in the sport of cricket. Uniform playing conditions developed under the ICC guidelines shall be strictly followed in all formats of the game by the respective councils.

He said the process on the ECB's domestic cricket policy to focus on development and governance began in June, adding that "We are now ready to implement it in full, with immediate effect. All data will be fed into a central database maintained by the ECB and accessible by the regional councils and umpires to ensure teams and players are allowed to participate in various approved cricket activities."

He said the private organisations would require approval of the regional councils of their jurisdictions. A rate card would be established by each council for sanctioning their tournaments and their activities. Failure to do so, he said, would make any concerned party ineligible to participate or exercise their selected field of functions."