13-year old Fuvahmalian Ibrahim Saeed took three wickets against the U-16s

Eight of the best young cricketers from Fuvahmulah have taken the 80-minute ride aboard a twin-prop De Havilland DHC-8 to Malé for a week of training and matches. Coached by Riyaz Rasheed in Fuvahmulah, the boys, aged from 10 to 14 were under the wing of Maldives national coach Nilantha Cooray and ACC Level II coaches Mohamed Saafee and Sujith. They played two hard ball matches and one tape ball match against U-16 and U-14 sides during their time in the capital. “This is a very talented squad,” says Cricket Board of Maldives Development Manager Imad Ismail.

As with all youth squads, bowling was found to be better than batting, and in 13-year old Azim Rafeeq Maldives have found a natural swing bowler, and left-hander of considerable potential. Given the fact that the boys have played just a couple of times on a real cricket ground up to the week in Malé, being out in the middle was a considerable thrill. “Field-settings need lot of work” says Imad, but the “boys are very athletic and good fielders.”

Ismail Shaof in his gather

The Fuvahmaluh boys had gained some match experience against a visiting Chinese school earlier in the year but this was their first exposure to serious cricket. The whole process of what it means to be a dedicated cricketer – from practices, to warm-ups and cool downs and fitness – was impressed upon the boys, who responded well. Local Milan Cricket Academy, run by former CBM member Farhath Jaleel, also presented each of the boys with kit bags.

Fuvahmulah lost their first game against the Maldives U16s by 33 runs, chasing 126 but impressed in patches and then two days later beat Muhiyiddin School by 56 runs. They were up against it in their final match, a 40-over one against the MS Academy Youth team, once MS put on a 154-run opening partnership, eventually finishing on 302. The young Fuvahmalians made a valiant 145 in reply against the bigger boys.

Imad Ismail’s final assessment: “even in an island like Fuvahmulah, where cricket is not played widely like soccer, the visiting team has shown very good cricket in the 8 day tour to Malê. They have improved very much on how to play in different condition, culture and different environment. They have improved very much on their batting and bowling skills. Because they are athletic they were very good fielders. They also have learned a lot in cricket discipline and mental toughness.” Other islands are also going to be encouraged to send their teams to Malé and an expanded school competition including all of them is in the pipeline.

Maldives Cricket Profile

Filed June 20th, 2013