ABU DHABI // International one-day cricket matches and training camps are being scheduled for Dubai Sports City's 25,000-seat cricket stadium, which is due for completion by the end of the year. Maqbul Dudhia, the general manager of sports business at Dubai Sports City, a US$4 billion (Dh14.7bn) mixed-use development in Dubailand, said he was in "active discussions" with national cricket boards, English county teams and international "A" sides to arrange matches.
He said the stadium's inaugural fixture was expected to be confirmed "in the next few months", but was subject to team availability during a hectic season of matches. "There are a few specific scenarios being investigated," Mr Dudhia said. "We have to work around team availability under the global cricket schedule, including the ICC [International Cricket Council] Future Tours Programme. The key for us is to develop a sustainable calendar of exciting cricket events that supports the sport at local, regional and international levels."
Mr Dudhia said Dubai Sports City was aware of its responsibility to develop the game locally. "We're keen to factor the UAE team into our plans at some stage," he said. "In particular, we believe that the ICC Global Cricket Academy will provide an important boost for training, development and education around cricket." About 80 per cent of the stadium has been completed, including the main structure and the roof, he added.
The pitch has been laid and a drainage system put in place, ready for the playing surface to be grassed. Other outstanding work includes the installation of electronic systems and landscaping around the stadium. The ICC Global Cricket Academy, which will be located in Dubai Sports City, will house seven indoor practice nets, some of which have been designed to improve spin bowling, batting and fast bowling.
It will also have a range of practice pitches that replicate wickets found around the world, allowing teams to develop their skills to adapt to overseas conditions. The retired Australian wicket keeper Rod Marsh has been appointed the director of coaching. Members of the ICC are in Dubai this week to discuss Dubai Sports City's potential for hosting international matches. However, Zimbabwe dominated the agenda after its tour of England, scheduled for next year, was cancelled last week.