England captain Eoin Morgan believes UAE has what it takes to build a big talent pool

Meanwhile, Paul Stirling hailed the UAE senior national squad as the world's best ICC associate member team


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Eoin Morgan (centre) and Paul Stirling (right) interact with Zayed Cricket Academy youngsters. (Picture courtesy Abu Dhabi Cricket Council)
Eoin Morgan (centre) and Paul Stirling (right) interact with Zayed Cricket Academy youngsters. (Picture courtesy Abu Dhabi Cricket Council)

Published: Mon 11 Apr 2022, 1:31 PM

Last updated: Mon 11 Apr 2022, 1:50 PM

It was in February 2007 that Eoin Morgan first arrived on these shores, scoring a double century for Ireland, the country of his birth, in a first-class game against the UAE in Abu Dhabi.

Fifteen years on, Morgan nestles elegantly in the upper echelons of cricket, having carved out a glorious white-ball international career that has seen him become the only England captain to hoist the World Cup trophy in the 50 overs format.

Last Friday, the aggressive left-handed batsman got nostalgic after attending a Q&A session with the youngsters of Zayed Cricket Academy at the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council.

“I think there are very few countries that have the level of infrastructure and facility (like the UAE) that can help them (youngsters) take a genuine step forward,” said Morgan, who conducted a five-day coaching masterclass with Ireland batsman Paul Stirling at the Zayed Cricket Academy.

Morgan, 35, said the UAE’s success in winning the Plate Division final of the ICC Under 19 World Cup and the senior team’s qualification for the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup would not have been possible without the country’s world-class infrastructure.

“I’ve played in Ireland where you need a lot of things to go your way in order to create an upset whereas the UAE are creating that and their infrastructure is developing day by day,” he said.

“I’ve been coming here since 2007. Things have completely changed and to see the level of kids that are out there now and the enthusiasm and the level of infrastructure that the sports councils and the cricket academies are willing to develop, that cannot be matched by other teams.”

Morgan, who played 23 one-day internationals for Ireland before leaving for the greener pastures in England, says the UAE has what it takes to build a big pool of talent.

“I remember being in Ireland team that suddenly shot up and then they had nothing behind us,” he recalled. “But if you have a UAE team that shoots up and has something behind it, there would be a level of consistency and growth and development.”

Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Stirling hailed the UAE senior national squad as the world’s best ICC associate member team.

“They’ve become probably the best team under the main echelon of teams. They’ve beaten us four or five times in a row,” said Stirling, referring to the UAE’s dominance in the recent T20 international encounters against Ireland, a Test-playing team.

“Results don’t lie, they’re going well. But the big test for them will be at the T20 World Cup (in Australia). Can they up their game to the standards in the World Cup? That’s the question that a lot of us ask ourselves, so that will be brilliant to watch. And to qualify from the initial stage of the World Cup to the major group (Super 12) will show exactly where the team is and show everyone what they need to do to improve.”

The Ahmed Raza-led UAE team, which beat Ireland in the final of the qualifying tournament this year after booking their place in the T20 World Cup, has impressed the hugely-experienced Stirling with their discipline on the field.

“Seems like there’s a structure in place now. They’ve got a new coach, Robin Singh. To be honest, they seem to be doing the basics very well,” said Stirling who has scored 5047 runs with 12 hundreds in one-day internationals.

“We played against them (UAE) a lot recently. And they’re not making the same mistakes that you would assume they would make in the game. Whenever they’ve got ahead, they’ve actually dominated. That’s a drastic improvement.

“So if they keep improving, they’ve got the infrastructure here to be as good as they want to be.”

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