ICC qualification rule to boost UAE cricket

ICC qualification rule to boost UAE cricket
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Published February 9th, 2015 - 15:28 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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International Cricket Council (ICC) logo
International Cricket Council (ICC) logo

The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to change the qualification rule for expatriates - which allows players with four years’ residency to represent the UAE in international cricket - comes as a big boost for domestic cricketers and can augur well for fielding a stronger men’s team to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

The ICC has also reduced the qualification period for women cricketers to just two years. This is a big motivation for women’s cricket, as the UAE had also recently won the GCC Twenty20 Cup in Oman.

Earlier, it used to take seven years of permanent residency here along with a consistent performance for men to be eligible to play for the UAE in international cricket. In the 15-member squad, only four players with four years’ residency were to be selected and only two from those four could be included in the playing XI. This has made the team weaker despite the availability of more skillful players and also denied talented cricketers - who are here for better job prospects - a chance to play international cricket.

Cricketers from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who have played a decent level of cricket in their countries often pick up a job here when they are in their mid-twenties, and by the time they become eligible to play after a seven-year wait, they are in their thirties. That is the age when cricketers from full member Test playing countries start thinking of retirement - hence to expect an associate country to perform half as well as a full member nation is foolhardy.

One of the reasons that a number of players in the current UAE team for the World Cup are in their thirties has a lot to do with this rule, one that has also kept good players out of the team. Many good cricketers who came here after playing a good level of cricket in their country very often score centuries and take hat-tricks in domestic cricket immediately on arrival. There are hundreds from such cricketers who just faded out due to lack of exposure and finally gave up the game completely.

It is a fact that in certain countries, local passports are never issued to expatriates, irrespective of whether they were born there or resided there for long. Through this decision to reduce the qualification period, ICC has given life to cricketers who would have otherwise given up the sport.

UAE coach Aaqib Javed has shown that even cricketers who work long hours for a living can be transformed into physically fit players. Domestic cricketers can now can play with renewed vigour, and playing in a World Cup will not be a distant or an impossible dream!

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2015. All rights reserved.

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