Exclusive: Rajasthan Royals Academy want to develop cricket among Emiratis, says Brown Filed on September 3, 2021
Dougie Brown at the Rajasthan Royals Academy in Dubai. (Supplied photo)

The Royals have now launched their second UAE academy at the Malek Stadium in Ajman

Dougie Brown played international cricket for Scotland and England, even dismissing the iconic Brian Lara for a duck in the 1997 Champions Trophy in Sharjah.

After a two-decade-long first-class career during which he also shared the Warwickshire dressing room in county cricket with Lara, Brown has gone on to become a highly respected coach, having worked with UAE national team as well as franchise leagues like the Abu Dhabi T10.

The 51-year-old Brown is now Director at the Rajasthan Royals Academy in UAE. The first IPl franchise to have launched a cricket facility in Dubai, the Royals have now launched their second UAE academy at the Malek Stadium in Ajman.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Brown revealed the Royals UAE ambitions and why it’s important for young cricketers to develop complementary skills by playing different sports.

How has been your association with the Rajasthan Royals Academy in UAE?

Obviously, it’s very exciting to be involved with this project. They are expanding in UAE, so it’s doubly exciting. It’s a real hotbed of cricket with many good young players coming through. So for them to experience world-class coaching, world-class facilities and a world-class programme that is linked to an IPL franchise, is just amazing.

Will any of your players from the academy get a chance to train with the Rajasthan Royals team during the IPL this month in UAE?

Unfortunately not because of the whole Covid protocol, the bubble, it will not be possible this year. But further enhancing the opportunity of the Rajasthan Royals Academy here, how good that will be for our bowlers to be bowling to Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, all these guys, in the future. It will be absolutely amazing. It’s something that we know they will get as and when the Covid principles relax a little bit.

Will there be any RR player visiting the academy once the IPL is over in October?

During the last IPL when it was cancelled in India, we had Zoom meetings with a couple of the Rajasthan Royals players. That was brilliant. We have plans again to have similar events during this tournament or after the tournament which will give the academy players an incredible experience.

Are your students here mostly from the South Asia community?

We have a complete, wide demographic of kids that we have on our programme. Yes, there are a lot of Indian players, but there are also a lot of western expats and Pakistani and Sri Lankans as well. It’s the balance of South Asian and western cultures coming together.

The Emirates Cricket Board has a long-term vision of bringing Emiratis to cricket. Have your academy made any plans to encourage locals to play cricket?

We would love to see the indigenous population being involved. We would love to be an academy that definitely wants to develop cricket among the Emirati population. We certainly will be doing everything we can to make sure that is the case. Not just Emirati men, but women and girls as well. We also want to build a genuine high-performance development programme, and hopefully, we can pass these players on the UAE set up, players that are good enough to go on and represent UAE.

You also played football and rugby in your junior days. How important is it for the kids’ athletic development to also play other sports?

It’s really important. I would always advocate that young individuals don’t just focus on one sport. I think a number of complementary skills can be developed by playing other sports like football, golf, rugby or even karate. When I was at Warwickshire in the UK, in our academy, we had a number of Indian and Pakistani kids. In the South Asian culture, generally, cricket is so popular, it’s such a big sport, all the children focus on that. But we actually made a rule that all our cricketers had to spend four hours a week doing a different sport, whether it was badminton, tennis or table tennis, which allowed them to learn different skills which they might be able to apply in cricket as and when that became their job. It helps them athletically. It helps the fitness and it helps the hand-eye coordination. When you play football and rugby, it helps in cricketers’ fielding. So I think it’s really important.


Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.

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