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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

ICC Academy to host cricket trials to unearth next-gen stars with 'X-factor'

Trials, to be held this Saturday, open to UAE-based players aged between 12 to 18, will identify 12 candidates who will then be given fully-funded scholarships.

The ICC Academy is thinking long term by launching a scholarship programme for the most talented players between ages 12 and 18. ICC Academy
The ICC Academy is thinking long term by launching a scholarship programme for the most talented players between ages 12 and 18. ICC Academy

The ICC Academy will remove the cost of access to its facilities for some of the country’s most talented young players, when it hosts trials for cricketers with “X-factor” this weekend.

The trials, to be staged at their outdoor nets in Dubai Sports City from 2pm on Saturday, are open to any aspiring UAE-based players aged between 12 to 18.

The 12 successful candidates will have fully-funded scholarships, giving them free use of the type of coaching and facilities at the academy regularly used by elite, international players.

“The whole of the UAE, essentially, is privatised - whether it be healthcare, schooling, access to sport, that is the way we are structured in this country,” said Will Kitchen, the general manager of the ICC Academy.

“Barriers to participation at a venue like ours can be price. We hope to overcome that by offering fully-funded scholarships.

“Those people will be treated differently. They will join in sessions with our other talented youngsters, but they will get an additional level of service.

“We are looking for players with an X-factor. Young players who show a real point of difference, whether it be their desire, or something we can see in terms of their physical attributes.”

Kitchen, who hopes the new scholarship scheme will run “ad infinitum”, believes it will help prepare players from any background to play senior representative cricket.

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“My ambition now is to ensure the role we play in grassroots cricket is not just as a standalone academy where we coach kids for the sake of coaching kids, to make some revenue,” he said.

“We want to have some impact on the vast numbers of young people who play cricket here.

“We want to create a pathway for players with high potential to go into what we have worked really hard to create at UAE national team level, which is a fully professional structure.”

Qasim Ali, the academy's head of cricket development, said the players will have the same access to resources afforded to the full UAE national team.

“The players will have access to all the resources we have,” Qasim said.

“The purpose of having all this – a bowling machine, a spin lane, batting outside under lights, to using the Australian [soil] wickets - is to try to equip them with the skills, but you have to implement that at the right stage.”