National team take on the world's No 3-ranked side in Abu Dhabi on Monday
Dougie Brown hopes for good turnout when UAE face Australia in T20 match
Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, hopes supporters will come out to watch the team’s biggest home fixture in more than two decades, when they face Australia in Abu Dhabi.
The national team play the world’s No 3 ranked side in a full Twenty20 international on Abu Dhabi Cricket Oval 1, starting at 2pm on Monday.
Even though admission is free to see the country’s leading cricketers face world-renowned stars like Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch and Chris Lynn, a significant crowd is hardly guaranteed.
It falls within office hours on the second day of the working week, while the fact it was only confirmed as an official international fixture last week means there has been little time to promote the event.
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Brown says the size of the crowd will have no bearing on how his side will play, and expects his players to raise their game to match their celebrated opposition.
“I’d like to hope we will get support there, but irrespective of that, it is not going change our attitude to the game,” Brown said.
“There is an opposition there that we want to try and challenge. It would be lovely for UAE cricket if we could make it a real festival and have a few hundred, or thousand, people down there watching.
“Away from our team, there are some world-class players. If people are turning up to watch, aside from supporting the UAE team, they can still hope from a performance by one of the Australians.
“We are really looking forward to it. We have nothing to lose. The timing, 2pm on a Monday, is just something that fits with the schedule.
“We would play anytime, anywhere, against Full Member nations. This is just a great opportunity, regardless of whether hundreds of people turn up to watch us.”
Australia represent the most high-profile opposition the UAE have played in a home international since they faced India and Pakistan in Sharjah in 1994.
The national team do have more recent experience of playing opposition from the elite Test nations, though.
In March they beat Zimbabwe in Harare, having played West Indies a week earlier. In that match, Shimron Hetmyer and Chris Gayle scored centuries in a Windies victory, but the UAE also notched up their second highest one-day international score in their history.
“It is one thing our guys are pretty good at doing, they don’t really get too phased, as we saw in the World Cup Qualifier playing against the likes of Chris Gayle,” Brown said.
“They beat us, but we challenged them pretty well. We were competitive for long parts of that game.
“The one thing we are very good at doing is raising our game when the magnitude of our game goes up as well. The bigger the game, the better we do.”
Ahmed Raza, the UAE spin bowler, says the fact the match has been upgraded to full T20I status means a lot to the home players.
“It makes a huge difference,” Raza said. “You are talking about your stats, the whole world is watching you, and we will be in a position where we have nothing to lose.
“They are expected to win, so we don’t go in with any pressure. On such days you should leave the pressure out and just enjoy it.
“How many times in your career do you have such days? Rather than putting yourself under pressure, whoever is in the playing XI should just enjoy the occasion.”