Coach reveals what Japan can learn from UAE's cricket system

UAE made history on Wednesday by qualifying for the Under-19 Asia Cup semifinals

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Japan's Kiefer Lake (left) and Koji Abe (right) with UAE players Ethan D'Souza, Ammar Badami and Harith Shetty pose after their match in Dubai. — Photos by Rituraj Borkakoty
Japan's Kiefer Lake (left) and Koji Abe (right) with UAE players Ethan D'Souza, Ammar Badami and Harith Shetty pose after their match in Dubai. — Photos by Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 10:37 AM

Last updated: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 5:28 PM

Having finally tasted big-time cricket at the Under-19 Asia Cup in Dubai, the Japan team is returning home with a bagful of memories and learnings.

They were bowled out for just 75 and 99 in their first two games against Test-playing teams Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

But their batters came into their own in the final game against the ever-improving UAE, making 213/4 in 50 overs.

Japan assistant coach Vinay Iyer revealed the coaching staff set 'small targets' for the team at this tournament.

“In batting, our target was to last 30 overs in the first game. In the second game, we wanted to last at least 40 overs. But we played 47 overs. Against the UAE, we actually managed to play 50 overs,” Iyer told the Khaleej Times.

Iyer is happy with his team’s desire to learn and improve.

Japan assistant coach Vinay Iyer
Japan assistant coach Vinay Iyer

But he says there is a lot more to be done at the grassroots levels in Japan for their cricket to take the next big step.

Iyer, a former club-level cricketer in Mumbai who also played against Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara in age-group tournaments, wants Japan cricket to learn from the UAE which made history on Wednesday by qualifying for the semifinals.

“I am not surprised by the UAE’s performance at this Asia Cup. They have got a proper system and world-class facilities,” Iyer said.

“When our boys arrived on this ground for the first time, their mobiles were out, taking pictures of this wonderful facility. This is the best facility they can get.

“I have heard that there are 60 cricket grounds in this country. It’s amazing. In Japan, the first thing is nets, we don’t have many net facilities and many turf wickets.

“In fact, only the biggest tournaments in Japan are played on turf wickets. Here in the UAE, every level of cricket is played on a turf wicket.”

Cricket is obviously at a nascent stage in Japan where baseball is by far the most popular sport with football also enjoying big popularity.

“Here in the UAE, they play cricket every day of the week. In Japan, they work from Monday to Friday and then play on Saturdays and Sundays. So that's a big difference," Iyer said.

"But what we have now is a growing number of Japanese boys that play cricket. That’s a very big positive. And this team is very proud to earn this opportunity to play at this Asia Cup. They have qualified for it, which is a big achievement,” added Iyer who also owns a cricket club in Japan named KKR (Kawasaki Knight Riders)

The main takeaway for this Japan team from this tournament is that they should always be able to grab the chances with both hands.

“What they learned here is that there are no second chances at this level,” he said.

“Against Fiji or Indonesia, they get another chance after dropping a catch. But at this level, you pay for your mistakes.

“So, it was a great learning opportunity for them.”

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