UAE shortlist 43 players for training camp

The Emirates Cricket Board name a 43-man training squad ahead of the national team's most important competition for 13 years.

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SHARJAH // The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) have named a 43-man training squad ahead of the national team's most important competition for 13 years. The UAE will be bidding for a place in the top four at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in South Africa in April, which would grant them the right to play in the game's premier 50-over competition on the Subcontinent in 2011. The result of the Qualifier will have a massive bearing on the future of cricket in the UAE, who reached the finals for the first - and thus far only - time in 1996.

The four qualifiers will benefit from a sizable revenue boost, which could stretch to millions of dollars in ICC funding alone. Sponsors would also see far greater attraction in a national team participating on such an elite scale. The tournament could also define the future of some of the UAE's longest-serving players. Fly Emirates, the nation's pre-eminent club side who face matches against a star-laden Lord's Taverners side at the weekend, provide the bulk of the players for the squad. Their leading player, Khurram Khan, 37, who captained the UAE to the final of the ACC Trophy in Malaysia last summer, is a shoo-in for the final squad, fitness permitting. During the ACC Trophy last July, the veteran left-hander suggested his playing days could be over within two years. If the UAE do manage to qualify for the 2011 World Cup, part of which will be played in his native Pakistan, it would likely delay his retirement plans. Khurram said: "It is going to be difficult for us, not just me, but there are two or three other guys in a similar situation. "But it is hard to say what is going to happen in the future. At the moment we are just concentrating on that qualifying round.

"We have some good matches in the lead-up [the UAE and Fly Emirates will be joined by six English county sides in the ProArch Trophy tournament in March]. That is a very good opportunity for our players." Mohammed Tauqir, 37, who was Khurram's understudy in Malaysia, also stated that the result of the Qualifier will decide when he will finally hang up his boots. Even though the UAE are firmly established as Asia's top non-Test playing nation, qualification for the World Cup will be tough. The competition, which starts in Gauteng on Apr 1 and concludes with the final on Apr 18, has the UAE pitted in Group B, along with the most successful non-Test nation, Kenya. The pool is completed by the Netherlands, who have also been regular visitors to the World Cup in the past, Bermuda, Denmark, and one more qualifier, to be decided early next month.

Abdul Rehman, Ahmed Raza, Alawi Shukri, Aman Shirazi, Amjad Ali, Amjad Javed, Aqib Malik, Adil Farooq, Arshad Ali, Fahad al Hashmi, Fahad Usman, Indika Batuwitaarachchi, Indika Sampath, Irfan Sajjad, Jasim Suwaidi, Javed Ismail, Khurram Khan, Mehtab Ali, Mohammed Tauqir, Mohammed Iqbal, Naeemuddin Aslam, Nigel Fernandez, Nithin Gopal, Obaid Hameed, Owais Hameed, P. Bakhtiyar, Prashanth Braggs, Qasim Zubair, Rameez Shahzad, Rasheed Khan, Ravi Kumar Varma, Riaz Khalid, Salman Farooq, Sameer Zia, Samir Naik, Saqib Ali, Shadeep Silva, Shoaib Sarwar, Taimoor Khalil, Vikranth Shetty, Wasim Bari, Syed Mohamed Fawaz, Zahid Shah

pradley@thenational.ae