x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Abu Dhabi's invite to the MCC

The Abu Dhabi Cricket Council (ADCC) are close to finalising a deal with the sport's oldest establishment to set up a centre of excellence.

A view of the action between Pakistan and Australia, who played three one-day internationals as part of Pakistan's home series for the Chapal Cup at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
A view of the action between Pakistan and Australia, who played three one-day internationals as part of Pakistan's home series for the Chapal Cup at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // The Abu Dhabi Cricket Council (ADCC) are close to finalising a deal with the sport's oldest establishment to set up a centre of excellence. Dilawar Mani, the chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board, met with representatives from the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) at Lord's last month to propose the partnership which will see teams from the MCC use the academy facilities at the Zayed Cricket Stadium for off-season training.

He says "positive signals" were coming from the home of cricket, which would see squads from various age groups come to the UAE in the winter months when playing cricket in the United Kingdom is not possible. "We have invited the MCC to come and set up a centre of excellence here in Abu Dhabi as part of their winter tours operation," Mani says. "The MCC already send teams on tour to countries such as India, but they have had a look at our proposal and they have met it with a great deal of excitement and would like to come here.

"We are hoping that at some point during the summer we would have signed a memorandum of understanding which will enable them to send teams from their academy and other age groups to refine their skills." The venture will also benefit the local players as the best of UAE cricketers will hone their skills against the MCC in matches tailored to suit the touring party. Six leading county sides have been visiting the city on a regular annual basis now for the ProArch Trophy. Their junior sides also embarked on a similar tour early this year and the England national team had a three-day practice camp last year on their way to India.

Mani admits that the growing importance along with the proposed new venture has prompted the development of the academy and the facilities in and around the stadium. The ADCC are considering two options of developing buildings at the ground with facilities like a swimming pool, two squash courts, a business centre and a gymnasium. However, the most interesting venture is the possibility of lodgings at the stadium. "When you have schools coming here from England - and even the county sides - they need affordable accommodation," Mani adds.

"We have to look at the finances and whether it will pay back, but this is a very exciting moment for us and another milestone for our growth and development." snelmes@thenational.ae