DUBAI // A root-and-branch reform of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has been prompted by a mandate for change from the sport's rulers, the International Cricket Council (ICC). The UAE remain an integral member of the ICC's high-performance programme, which includes the top 10 nations outside the Test elite, after finishing seventh at the World Cup Qualifier recently. As part of a strategic plan evolved last summer, the ICC's development committee want to professionalise the way non-Test nations are run and move on from the mostly amateur administrations.
The newly-created chief executive's role at the ECB, to which Dilawar Mani has been appointed, is a step in that direction. The ICC also hope to see a head coach employed full time, as well as a development officer, development assistants and an accountant. Canada is currently trying to find a way to revamp their cricket board while Afghanistan got their first board last week. Matthew Kennedy, the ICC's global development manager, said: "We work together with the countries, we don't tell them how their cricket should be run.
"When it comes to the funding we provide, we need to be satisfied with the budgets and the plans. "In terms of the larger funding for the top 10 countries, there are certain staffing requirements which they have to have in place. Otherwise we are putting too much of a burden on a structure which can't maintain that. It is always a balance." Earlier this year, the ECB submitted a new strategic masterplan to the Asian Cricket Council to make cricket "the No1 sport of choice" in this country.
There is a large Emirati presence among the newly-constituted board of directors, yet that is hardly commensurate with the roll call on the playing fields of the UAE. Within their plan, the ECB identified weaknesses to be based around the "minimum ethnic population participation" and cricket "not being played in local schools". Kennedy added: "It is certainly very important when it comes to government interest in most countries. The game will only be sustainable in the long-term if the local population buys into the structures and their national team."