They take women’s cricket seriously in the UAE. With the ACC U-19 tournament coming up in December, the UAE are holding a weekend coaching camp at Sharjah Stadium to select the fourteen-strong squad.
According to the Emirates Cricket Board “the team, comprising school girls, made a quiet debut in the premier tournament held in Malaysia last year, but since has worked hard to hone their competitive edge.”
|UAE Women in 2007|
A mixture of mothers and school girls, captained by a 12-year old, the team in the inaugural ACC Women’s Tournament last year, though losing all their three matches got better and better every time. “We’re building for the future,” said their manager Sheila Razdan back then, and they still are. Their bowling shows plenty of promise and if their batters back them up, they will be a force.
Like all women’s teams in the region, with the exception of Hong Kong, the one thing they lack is regular match practice. As Mrs. Razdan, who managed the UAE team in Malaysia last year says, “the UAE will only be able to field a strong team if regular inter-emirates matches are organised.”
The UAE pioneered women’s cricket in the Gulf, being the first from the region to field a team in international competition last year. It was a culturally significant move which emboldened their neighbours to follow. All but Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the region now have women’s teams in the ACC U-19 Women’s Championship in December. The base is in place for the region to significantly develop women’s cricket should they so wish.
|UAE’s captain Natasha Cherriath in Sharjah|
There are currently 25 women cricketers active in the UAE. “These are early days for all of us and every match will be good experience for the team. The girls are not short on enthusiasm and all they need is good exposure to boost their confidence. And this Under-19 championship, in a way, is a win-win situation for us, immaterial of the results,” says Emirates Cricket Board Administrator Mazhar Khan.
Filed October 17, 2008