x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

New surface, new format and new sponsor as the Abu Dhabi inter-school tournament enters its fifth season.

Action from last season's U16 final between Abu Dhabi Indian School, batting side, and champions Cambridge High School. Ravindranath K / The National
Action from last season's U16 final between Abu Dhabi Indian School, batting side, and champions Cambridge High School. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // The Abu Dhabi inter-school cricket tournament is entering its fifth year with a few improvements.

Young cricketers from the capital’s schools will enjoy playing at one of the best facilities in the country – the newly laid turf wickets of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council’s (ADCC) Nursery Ovals.

The tournament format has changed from 25-over-a-side games to Twenty20 and the ADCC have also struck a sponsorship deal with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

“We are trying to create a pathway to nurture the next generation of cricketers,” David East, the chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board, said.

“It is a significant development to provide the turf facilities for all age groups.

“We hold the inter-school tournament in high esteem. This tournament is a stage for the young cricketers to showcase their talents and abilities, and performances will serve as notice for selections for the UAE in various age groups.

“Apart from providing the youngsters the playing opportunities, we are also looking for talented players to emerge from such competitions.”

The school tournament was first played on cement wickets and rolled sand.

Some games were eventually moved to turf pitches and the finals at the Zayed Cricket Stadium strip.

“We have got the facilities and from now on, the inter-school tournament will be played on the turf. School cricket is the best way forward,” East said.

The former Essex wicketkeeper batsman insisted on switching to T20.

“This format provides an early introduction to the players to adapt and it is better time serving,” East said.

The Cambridge High School, the two-time winners of the Under 19 title, play newcomers Glenelg School in Group A, while the British School Al Khubairat meet Asian International School Bida Zayed in Group B on Thursday’s opening day.

Cambridge High School are the favourites again, with a team consisting of Shivank Vijaykumar, Moaaz Qazi, Bilal Passela, and Bikramjeet Singh, all of whom have represented the UAE at youth level.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Pakistan School, runners-up twice to Cambridge, will be hoping to make it third-time lucky.

Ahmed ur Rehman, the player of the tournament in the previous event, leads the team that also includes the UAE Under 16 international Simon Charles.

Abu Dhabi Indian School and Asian International School Bida Zayed complete the six-team competition. The top two teams from the two groups will advance to the semi-finals

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Pakistan School are the defending champions of the U16 tournament, scheduled for next month.

Abu Dhabi Indian School was the winner of the U14 competition, which will take place in January.

apassela@thenational.ae