ABU DHABI // The new chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), wants to make the region's cricket operation commercially self-sustainable and wean it gradually away from relying on funding from the International Cricket Council.
That is one of the key objectives of David East, the former chief executive of the English county side Essex, who arrived in Abu Dhabi last week, having been appointed last September to replace Dilawar Mani.
East had to serve out a three-month notice period at the county where he spent 10 years as a wicketkeeper-batsman and then 14 years as administrator, including the last 12 as the chief executive.
He takes over a board and infrastructure left in fairly rude health by Mani and will have little time to ease himself in. Already the UAE's cricket calendar over the next couple of years is as busy as it has been, with a number of ICC events inked in, as well as the expected hosting of Pakistan's "home" series.
"I've been to the UAE a few times before so I've got a feel for the way cricket is organised here," East told The National. "I've done a lot of reading up and had a lot of material to read prior to arriving. This week has been fairly intensive in terms of induction and what is happening but I'm starting to get a feel for it."
East went to Dubai yesterday and is expected to visit Sharjah next week.
"I want to get around all the cricket-playing emirates to demonstrate that we are very much an inclusive and all Emirates board."
In October this year, the UAE will once again host the ICC World T20 qualifiers. Pakistan are also due to host both South Africa and Sri Lanka from October onwards and, although it has not been confirmed just yet, it is likely the series will take place in the UAE.
Next year, the Under 19 World Cup is also scheduled for the UAE. That is in addition to regular visits from English county sides and universities.
"That is an extremely important profile that we have these prestigious inbound tournaments and teams," East said. "It's certainly something that we are going to actively pursue and we're very much looking forward to hopefully having Pakistan here, Sri Lanka and the Under 19 World Cup. There are other things in the pipeline as well and its going to be an extremely busy 12 to 14 months coming up."
One of the longer-term aims will be to somehow push the UAE national side towards full one-day international status at least.
Aqib Javed, the former Pakistan fast bowler, will be an important figure in East's work to that end as the national team's coach and the pair were due to meet yesterday.
Javed is already scouring young talent from schools around the UAE and is keen on enabling local cricketers to transcend from being, essentially, part-time cricketers to professional ones.
"I think in due course, that's [UAE's ODI status] obviously what one must be looking for," East said. "But it's really to ensure the governance framework and infrastructure, the high performance side of Emirates cricket goes from strength to strength.
"It's in supporting Aqib Javed in the work that he is doing. Obviously being a former cricketer myself, it's great that I am able to support him in that way. So very much supporting the high performance side, but also one of the main objectives is to try and commercialise the whole Emirates cricket operation so that it becomes more self-sustaining rather than, broadly speaking, relying on funding from the ICC."
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