The UAE U-19s in readiness.
Picture by Peter Lim

ACC Development Officer Venkatapathi Raju in the UAE on a two-week assignment, has been busy. In comments released by the Emirates Cricket Board, Raju says “The ECB and (national coach) Aaqib Javed wanted me to oversee the preparations for the U-19 Asia Cup and U19 World Cup,” says Raju who also worked closely with the spinners in the team. “It’s been going great. The boys look fit and enthusiastic. We are ensuring they are not under too much of pressure playing a big tournament and have fun playing the World Cup and enjoy themselves.”

“Playing the Asia Cup in December will be ideal preparation for the boys, playing against some good teams before going on to play the big event,” says Raju. The former India left-arm spinner said the U19 World Cup is an important step for youngsters and a good performance can put them into the big league. “We all have come from the same system. It becomes a very important stepping stone for them and if they do well they know it can easily help them stake a claim in the national team.”

Raju passing on some batting tips to the UAE’s Simrita Sandhu

Raju also took some time out to spend with the women’s team at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. “This is the first time I’m seeing them. They are showing a lot of interest and many of them are very good and talented. But they have very little cricket to play here. So we are planning to have more exposure matches that can build their confidence. We will also chalk out plans to take them to India and get them to play against some teams which should be a further boost,” he added.

Raju also said he was happy to see the fitness level of the UAE national team who are currently training in preparations to the World Twenty20 Qualifiers to be held in the UAE in November. “Aaqib has worked hard on their fitness. All the boys look fit and they put a lot of efforts. It was sad that they missed out on qualifying for the 2015 World Cup falling short by just one point in the World Cricket League. But they are continuing their training and most important they are getting more matches to play. It’s very impressive to be in such good shape especially they get to train only after they finish their regular jobs. Aaqib is doing a great job. He has worked on the fitness and the ECB has given its support-staff a free hand which has done the trick.”

Raju also visited the Al Dhaid Cricket Village and was bowled over seeing the facility. “I was surprised to find so many grounds in that small place. It has taken them a lot of efforts but it’s worth it. There is already a turf wicket and the other one will be ready in March. Along that they also have the cement wickets. With such great facilities it’s a real cricket village. It only shows why UAE has been awarded a big event like the U19 World Cup. They have the state-of-the-art stadiums and they have the infrastructure to host such big tournaments.”

He also praised the Abu Dhabi Cricket Academy and the work it’s doing in promoting cricket. “It’s a great place. There are so many youngsters packed in, hundreds. This shows the interest level for the game in this region is high.”

Raju in UAE
UAE Cricket Profile

Filed October 31st, 2013