SHARJAH // Aaqib Javed, the UAE coach, has reiterated his belief that the domestic game in this country needs to be revamped if the national team are going to bridge the gap to the top of the international scene.
The plucky part-timers of the national team gave a commendable account of themselves in two matches against Ireland in the World Cup qualifying league this week.
However, the difference between them at the best side outside of the Test arena was marked as they lost relatively comfortably in each.
The Irish team provided a template to which the UAE could aspire, and Aaqib said the first step towards raising standards in to implement a new, countrywide, premier competition.
The sport in this country has survived more or less since the inception of competitive cricket here on a diet of A Division matches organised by the separate councils in each emirate. Aaqib is grateful that such a well-established structure exists, but said the time has come for an inter-emirate league pitting the best players from each emirate against each other more regularly.
The former Pakistan pace bowler's vision for the new league would include 50 over matches each Friday.
"We don't have a county system here, or Ranji Trophy, Patrons Trophy, Sheffield Shield - the players only play corporate or club cricket," he said.
"That cricket is really good as it is your grassroots , but on top of that we need to build a platform to elevate the standard of this game.
"When you are playing the best of the best the quality of cricket will be higher and you can judge the players on that."
The UAE were left with a sense of frustration after their World Cricket League matches this week, believing they could have made their visitors work harder for their successes.
Given his generally cheerful demeanor, it seems unlikely the coach would have had any harsh words for his players despite some glaring errors, in particular with the bat.
"OK, we lost the game," the coach said. "If I lash them for it, what would happen?
"But I do have to point out the areas we are lacking. If you make mistakes, come back and learn from it. This standard was a different standard.
"If you want to go to another level the you have to make sure you are fit enough and good enough."
The UAE are still only one point off the second qualifying berth for the World Cup, with four matches to play in their campaign.
Khurram Khan, the captain, acknowledges they cannot slip up in any of their matches against Canada and Namibia if they are to stand a chance of getting second place.
"I don't think we have any room for mistakes now," he said. "We have two matches in Canada, in totally different conditions, and most of the guys haven't played in Canada before.
"We need to start practising and working through our mistakes and weaknesses and work on improving them."
IRELAND OVERCOME UAE IN SHARJAH TWENTY20 MATCH
The UAE went down fighting in their Twenty20 match against Ireland at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday night.
The hosts posted a target of 122-9 from their 20 overs and Ireland managed to pass that score with only seven balls remaining. Swapnil Patil top-scored for the UAE, with an impressive 41, which included two boundaries and two sixes, and their score was helped by Rohan Mustafa (24) and Mohammed Azam (20 not out).
Tim Murtagh claimed three wickets for the tourists. Ireland responded in strong style, quickly racking up the runs, with captain William Porterfield smacking 58 before being run out by Adil Riyal.
Rohan Mustafa had earlier claimed the wicket of James Shannon and Paul Stirling, and Ahmed Raza accounted for Naill O’Brien as Ireland wobbled, but a six and a four from Gary Wilson (35 not out) in the 18th over saw them home.
-- The National staff
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