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Patrick Kilding, centre of the huddle, is congratulated for a wicket in the game against Dorset at the Ardingly College grounds. Amith Passela / The National
Patrick Kilding, centre of the huddle, is congratulated for a wicket in the game against Dorset at the Ardingly College grounds. Amith Passela / The National

Sussex county cricket tournament brings gains for the UAE boys

The Under 13 side pick up one win in five games but the coach is happy with the learning curve and confident some will go on to represent the nation.

Shot out for 61 in reply to the host team's 202 for three in the Plate final, the MCC Zayed Cricket Academy's campaign in the Sussex County Cricket Club Under 13 tournament ended on a low.

But Qazi Ayub, the head coach, took plenty of positives from a week in which the team from Abu Dhabi won one of their five games in England.

"This tour has always been a learning curve for the boys and they did pretty well in the matches," Ayub said.

"They played three excellent games and two were a bit disappointing in terms of the team's performances. Still, we can take a lot of positives from a team that has never played five full-day games on the trot.

"We travelled with a squad of 14 and provided everyone the playing opportunities. So, results were not so important, although we tried to balance the team as best we could."

The Zayed Academy have taken part in the tournament since its inception in 2009. "This tournament is an excellent opportunity for the youngsters to play in English conditions and against well-drilled teams from some of the leading English county academies and other foreign academies," Ayub said.

"Some of the youngsters who played in this competition have gone on to play for the UAE age-group teams. This experience has certainly paved the way for some of the team to move to the next level."

Shivank Vijaykumar, Moaaz Qazi and Bilal Passela graduated from this level to represent the UAE national team at U16 and U19 levels and Ayub expects more to follow on their paths. "There are few players from the previous year and this squad with immense talent, and if they continue to work hard, there is no doubt they would reach a good level, and perhaps represent the national team," he said.

Jonathan Figy, the captain, and Mohammed Azzan, were touring for the second time. They are both 12 and are eligible to participate next year as well.

"I thought I had prepared better than the first time I toured," Figy said, "but I found some of the other teams were well-drilled and more disciplined in their approach. They were also physically stronger."

Patrick Kilding was the UAE's top performer with the bat, scoring 68 runs and taking eight wickets, while Akshaya Bangera scored 61 and Roshen Mendis bagged six wickets on the tour.



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