Dubai could soon play host to a number of international cricket matches thanks to the completion of a stadium in Dubai Sports City intended to replicate pitches from around the world. Managers at Dubai Sports City said they have had a great response from national cricket bodies asked to play at the new 25,000-capacity stadium.
"Many national cricket governing bodies have expressed a strong interest, subject to calendar opportunities, to bring their teams to play at the Dubai Sports City cricket stadium," said Macky Dudhia, the sport business manager. "Due to Dubai's location we are able to offer an excellent environment for international teams from around the world, with most Test-playing nations within convenient reach of Dubai."
"We believe Dubai Sports City's cricket stadium will become one of the most recognised grounds in the world, playing host to the biggest tournaments and international matches." The National reported yesterday that Pakistan has signed a three-year contract to play a series of matches at the stadium. It is understood that Dubai Sports City will make an announcement soon to present a programme of fixtures, following discussions with the International Cricket Council.
The political stability of the UAE could prove to be an important factor in bringing tournaments to the country, after security fears on the subcontinent have led players and officials to express fears of touring there. Other complaints expressed by touring players were a lack of comfortable hotels and good food. That, Mr Dudhia said, would not be a problem in a city such as Dubai. "Dubai Sports City will be the world's first integrated sport city, designed to provide the best possible environment for elite level sport and also development and training," he said.
"The Dubai Sports City cricket stadium is set within a complex which will provide accommodation, medical facilities, hotels and sport academies - there are few facilities in the world that are able to offer the same level of infrastructure to provide such a conducive location to host international sport," added Mr Dudhia. Managers have previously detailed how Dubai Sports City had imported soils and clays from foreign countries, including Pakistan, Australia and England, to provide international teams with conditions they were accustomed to at home.
Jeroen Smits, the captain of the Netherlands' cricket team, said the new venue and its facilities were "excellent. We really look forward to our games there". With Dubai being home to the sport's governing body, the ICC, it would seem a natural choice as a venue for ICC tournaments, but Dubai Sports City believe that it is the stadium's facilities rather than any local influence that will make the difference. "Just because the ICC is based here does not give the UAE an automatic right to host events but it is a fact that the UAE is one of the ICC's target countries for development so we can be hopeful for the future." said Mr Dudhia.
The Dubai stadium boasts a number of other features not found at other venues, Mr Dudhia said. Its floodlighting system replicates natural sunlight. "More than 350 lights cover the full circumference of the roof, allowing us to create conditions very similar to natural daylight, with minimal shadows," he said. "The system provides excellent light across all areas of the pitch to ensure optimum conditions during the cooler evenings."
He said the system would provide an intensity of light that would be perfect for high-definition television broadcasts. The UAE team is one of the highest ranked outside the Test match nations. It is part of the ICC's High Performance Programme which provides professional coaching, funding and competitive fixtures to bring teams up to Test standards. Part of Dubai Sports City's vision is to help promote further development of cricket in the country, said Mr Dudhia.