DUBAI // The UAE's chances of reaching the 2011 Cricket World Cup have been dealt a major blow after the game's ruling body confirmed the Emirates Cricket Board have lost the right to stage the qualifying event. The ICC World Cup Qualifier 2009, which will decide the final four places at cricket's showpiece event, was due to be held here in April.
However, the delay in constructing two academy ovals at Dubai Sports City (DSC) has led the ICC to relocate the event to South Africa. Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the Dubai-based ICC, said: "It has been decided it will be moved to South Africa, on account of communications we have from the Emirates Cricket Board that they were concerned. "They requested us to postpone the event until later in the year, but that does not fit with our scheduling. We were forced to move it to South Africa."
Six international standard venues are required to stage the 12-nation competition, which will settle which non-Test playing countries play at the next World Cup. Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and Al Dhaid all have established cricket grounds, and the new 25,000 capacity stadium at DSC is also scheduled to be ready for April. However, the two adjacent fields, which are being constructed as part of the ICC's Global Cricket Academy, have been hindered by delays.
In an ambitious bid to replicate the batting conditions faced around the world, DSC are planning to fly in different types of soil from Pakistan, Australia and England. Five of the 10 batting pitches on each oval have already been prepared using the Pakistan soil. However, the academy's bosses are still awaiting the delivery of the Australian clay, which they plan to have in the ground by Jan 2009 at the latest.
Construction has been hampered further by the difficulties faced in irrigating the newly seeded fields. Marc Archer, the general manager of the academy, said: "The last thing we want to do is get on the pitches too early and ruin the advantage we have of having these international-type conditions by over-use. "Pakistan are touring Australia next year. They may want to come and prepare on the Australia style wicket on the way down there."
The news could have a substantial impact on the UAE's chances of qualifying for the 2011 finals, which will be staged on the subcontinent. Form suggests they are a long way behind the qualifying tournament favourites, namely Kenya, Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada. They were hoping their knowledge of the home conditions was going to be a considerable advantage to their bid to close the gap on those sides. firstname.lastname@example.org