x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Coach adds new spin to strategy

The UAE's slow bowlers could have a critical say at the ICC World Cup Qualifier, even though the competition is being played at a pace-bowler's paradise in South Africa.

DUBAI // The UAE's slow bowlers could have a critical say at the ICC World Cup Qualifier, even though the competition is being played at a pace-bowler's paradise in South Africa. That is the view of the national team's new coach, Colin Wells, a former seam-bowling all-rounder who took 428 first-class wickets, which included stints at Border and Western Province. Historically, spin bowling has been the UAE's strength, while the pace attack has been a perennial work-in-progress.

The conditions in South Africa, especially on the Highveld where the qualifier is being staged, are said to favour seam-bowlers. Yet Wells believes other factors need to be considered. He said: "Traditionally South Africa assists pace, and particularly Gauteng, where the ball flies through. "Having said that, it will be towards the end of their season, so we may be using some used and tired pitches.

"The venue has been chosen rather late, so there would not have been pitches earmarked for us at the start of the season. "It may level out, but we have some very good spinners, some good batsmen, and some young and improving seam-bowlers." The UAE are pitted in Pool B in the tournament, which starts Apr 1, alongside Afghanistan, Bermuda, Scotland, Denmark, Kenya and the Netherlands. The selectors have pruned down their probables squad to 30 names. The pace ranks have been bolstered by Nithin Gopal, an exciting all-rounder based in Abu Dhabi, who has completed his residency qualification. He is one of seven players who qualify under the ICC's four-year residency regulation.

@Email:pradley@thenational.ae