DUBAI // Colin Wells, the UAE coach, will have had mixed feelings watching the part-timers of the Fly Emirates staff team beat his former county side, Sussex, to claim the maiden Emirates Airline Twenty20 title on Saturday night. Four of his national team players were integral to the amateur side's triumph, as they triumphed despite facing three professional teams. The likes of Khurram Khan and Arshad Ali are shaping up nicely ahead of the UAE's trip to Kuwait for the ACC Trophy later this month.
However, Wells will have also felt sympathy for the county he represented for most of his 17-year first-class career. His affinity with the English south coast county does not stop there. The Sharks opener, Luke Wells, is his nephew. The batsman-come-off-spinner, 19, is so intent on following his uncle - and his father Alan, who also played for Sussex and England - in the sport that he left university to commit to the game.
"I went through the first term and realised it wasn't for me," said Wells Jr. "I enjoyed it, but I thought I should throw myself into cricket because this is a great opportunity for me. Certain players have left and I am backing myself to produce the performances that will get me in the first team. "I can go back to uni if I need to or want to in the future. With the way cricket is going, you have to devote yourself to it. I didn't want to get to the stage where people were getting ahead of me."
The left-hander is having his first taste of senior team action during this tour of the UAE. He will line up alongside his new teammate Monty Panesar when Sussex play two 40-over matches at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi this week, against Cape Cobras tomorrow, and Durham on Wednesday. No doubt his proud uncle will be keenly observing his progress. "When dad and Colin played, I didn't really watch them. I was always playing. It was never the case that dad would say, 'Come on, you are playing cricket'. I just really enjoyed the game already. Dad and Colin were always there to help me if I ever needed it."