ECB springs a surprise

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ECB springs a surprise

Mohammed Tauqir made captain of the World Cup-bound UAE cricket team

By Sunil K. Vaidya (Sports Editor)

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Published: Sun 11 Jan 2015, 1:14 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:08 PM

The UAE’s Mohammed Tauqir in action during the Gulf Cup match against Saudi Arabia. — KT file

Dubai — Acting upon the dictate of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare (GAYSW), the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had to appoint an UAE national as the captain for the ICC World Cup to be held in Australia-New Zealand from February 14.

“The sports authority in the country has made it mandatory to name a national as the captain of a team that represents the UAE,” Mohammed Redha Abdulla Abbas, Chief Selector, and member of the ECB, told Khaleeej Times on Saturday.

“We are going for the World Cup so we had no option but name a national to lead the side and there was no better choice than Mohammed Tauqir,” he added.

Thus the  ECB selectors have taken away the captaincy baton for the ICC World Cup from veteran Khurram Khan and handed it over to UAE national Mohammed Taquir, who has not played for the country for almost last three years.

Mohammed Redha Abbas stressed that Khurram was a vital member of the team. “He is our Sachin Tendulkar and like the legendary former Indian captain, Khurram would play as well under any captain,” he remarked.  “Khurram has been performing wonderfully well and his experience will be of great value to the team,” he added.

Tauqir, an off break bowler, was recalled almost from wilderness last September when the World Cup-bound UAE toured Australia for warm-up matches organised by the ICC for the associate members. His last match for the UAE, before getting picked for the Australia tour, was a four-day game against the Netherlands in July, 2012. And, he played last 50-over match for the UAE in April 2011 against Hong Kong. “We also have a good fast bowler in Fahad Al Hashimi, who works with Dubai Police,” revealed Mohammed Redha Abbas.

Tauqir and Fahad Al Hashmi are the only two UAE nationals in the UAE team for the World Cup, starting on February 14 in Australia and New Zealand. Interestingly, both have been recalled to the team after a long gap. Like Tauqir, who had a brief stint as a captain for the UAE,  Al Hashmi has also been out of the game for a long time. He last played 50-over match for the UAE in 2008.

He was recalled to the team when the UAE played ODI series against Afghanistan in Dubai in November last year. “A UAE national leading the team at the World Cup will be a great opportunity to promote and showcase Emirati leadership and playing skills on the international sporting stage,” David East, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) CEO, told Khaleej Times on Saturday.

He said that Khurram, who captained the UAE since 2004, was consulted along with the all other relevant parties. “It is a decision of the selection committee and everyone was taken into confidence,” he added.  East said that since only 15 could be picked for the World Cup some players may have missed the bus.

Among those missing the bus is veteran campaigner Saqib Ali, who was surprisingly ignored by the selectors. The selection of four players, who can keep the wickets, is as surprising as Saqib’s, who even captained the UAE for two years, sack for the World Cup.

All four — Swapnil Patil, Saqlain Haider, Amjad Ali and Andri Berenger — are wicketkeepers although Amjad Ali has given up keeping in favour of UBL teammate Saqlain. It would be prudent to keep Saqib instead of one of the four wicketkeepers.

Along with vice-captain Khurram, Saqib’s vast knowledge and experience could have been handy to guide Tauqir, 43, in leading the side.  Tauqir has represented the UAE in 50 international matches, including five ODI’s; against Afghanistan (one), Bangladesh (one), India (one) and Sri Lanka (two).

He had a good ODI debut, in the 2004 Asia Cup when he scored a strong 55 runs off 73 balls, and took one wicket for 46 runs from his allotted 10-overs against India at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium in Sri Lanka.

The ECB in a statement said that with the appointment of an UAE national as the captain they aim to raise the profile of the sport within the Emirati community. “The decision also intends to highlight that indigenous players are integral to the future sustainability of the sport,” the statement released on ICC website says. UAE is placed in Pool B and will kick start its campaign against Zimbabwe in Nelson.




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