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Sangakkara praises Rajasthan Royals' UAE Academy

Team KT
Filed on February 25, 2021
Kumar Sangakkara. (AFP)

Rajasthan Royals Academy UAE delivers a coaching programme devised by former Scotland captain Dougie Brown

Newly-appointed Rajasthan Royals Director of Cricket Kumar Sangakkara believes academies such as the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise’s groundbreaking facility in Dubai will pave the way for young players to pursue careers in both the IPL and international cricket.

Former Sri Lanka skipper Sangakkara, who is his country’s highest ever run-scorer in Test cricket, played a pivotal role in the Lions’ T20 World Cup glory in 2014 and also represented three IPL franchises across six seasons as a player, was announced as Rajasthan Royals Director of Cricket at the end of January.

The Royals’ statement on the 43-year-old’s appointment explained Sangakkara will oversee “the entire cricketing ecosystem of the Royals franchise”, and part of that will relate to “talent discovery and development, as well as the development of the Royals facility in Nagpur.”

Rajasthan Royals Academy UAE delivers a coaching programme devised by former Scotland captain and UAE head coach Dougie Brown, aimed at developing players suited for the modern game.

And Sangakkara, who recently worked alongside Brown in taking Team Abu Dhabi to third-place in the Abu Dhabi T10, is certain that the Royals academy at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium - which began its second terms this month - will allow more players to hone the specialised skills required to be a success in the shorter formats and beyond.

“When you're talking about academies and other methods of coaching and preparation that augment and supplement the overall purpose or mission of cricket, it’s critical that you have a specialised focus at times on specialised skills and specialised formats,” said Sangakkara.

“The academy that Rajasthan Royals have in the UAE provides just that, a very specialised focus, a very specialised training environment that upskills young players to become successful in the game and that is a very, very good thing.

“So that you do understand the basics are the same, the technical makeup is very similar, but you train them from a very young age to be able to adapt and understand the requirements of different formats of cricket. At the same time they get a good grounding in technique in cricket as well and it is on that base that upskilling and expansion of repertoire happens.”

Sangakkara also stated that it’s “not beyond the realms of possibility” that the UAE academy could supply stars to bolster both the ranks of the Royals, and that these localised academies can ultimately benefit the national teams of the respective countries wherever they pop-up.

“International cricket in terms of representing your country is everyone’s ultimate goal but the opportunities are very limited,” added Sangakkara. “If you take India for instance, you’ve got such a large population that the chances of graduating through the system to represent India is very unpredictable.

“But franchise cricket has provided a lot of opportunities for players who might otherwise go unnoticed to try and display their skills and abilities. That has also paved the way as an avenue, in which if you succeed, you are noticed and you may get to represent the national side.

“I think you will see more and more of these academies coming up, more and more focus on franchise cricket and the ability of cricket to expand beyond its traditional countries into new markets which also quite largely depend on the success of franchise tournaments but also in terms of these specialised focused academies that can quickly be set up and be employed to impart the necessary skills in players.”

The Rajasthan Royals Academy UAE is an official academy under the banner of inaugural Indian Premier League champions Rajasthan Royals,and is based at Dubai’s The Sevens Stadium.

This is the franchise’s first academy in the Middle East and its second global cricket academy after the UK. The academy is another step taken by Rajasthan Royals in establishing their global presence as a cricketing brand to promote the sport around the world, and it is operated in partnership with UAE-based sports consulting firm RedBear Sports.

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