Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 May 2020

Dubai 'definitely keen' to host English county cricket matches

Dubai Sports City have offered the use of their three facilities – the Dubai International Stadium, plus two ovals at the ICC Academy – pending an easing of the coronavirus situation

The ICC Academy provides the ideal atmosphere for a first-class cricket match. Satish Kumar for The National
The ICC Academy provides the ideal atmosphere for a first-class cricket match. Satish Kumar for The National

Dubai Sports City have signalled they would also be willing to help ease the scheduling logjam caused by coronavirus by hosting English county cricket this winter.

Last week, it was revealed the idea of staging English domestic matches in Abu Dhabi in October and November was one solution being considered to help save a season suspended because of the pandemic.

Abu Dhabi Cricket remain cautious about making a concrete offer until it is clearer what the situation will be when the restrictions are eased.

However, they have said they are confident they would be able to offer a “bio-secure” solution to English cricket’s fixture pile up, if required. That would mean four ovals are available to host matches.

Now, Dubai Sports City have offered the use of their three facilities – the Dubai International Stadium, plus two ovals at the ICC Academy – pending an easing of the situation.

“It is still too early to plan, but if there is anything such as that being considered by the England and Wales Cricket Board, we would be more than happy to host them,” Salman Hanif, the head of cricket at Dubai Sports City, said.

“We have hosted them in the past, and we would certainly offer the best of support, facilities and everything again.”

Informal discussions have taken place in the past about staging a full round of early season County Championship matches in the UAE.

There are 18 teams in that competition, across two divisions. It is feasible UAE could stage a full programme of nine fixtures simultaneously.

There are four grounds on one site in Abu Dhabi, three at Dubai Sports City, two more at The Sevens, Dubai, as well as one at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. County teams have played at all those venues in the past.

Hanif said the country has an impressive infrastructure for the sport, and believes it is possible a number of organisations could be eyeing the venues as a solution to their problems.

“There has been a lot of talk in the media about the fact UAE could be a potential venue to host international cricket later in the year, and early next year, to extend the cricket season,” Hanif said.

“Because this has happened right at the start of the English cricket season, that is why this has become a consideration for them.

“If anything comes up – any bilateral series, or tournament – that has to be rescheduled, UAE would definitely be keen to host any of them.

“Outside of full member countries, UAE has the best cricket facilities, infrastructure, management support, and support for cricket organisations.

“We have proved that in the past. If anything comes up, I think UAE would be considered at the forefront.”

Updated: April 29, 2020 02:41 PM

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