Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

Jonathan Figy hopes this is the start of a long journey after action-packed debut for UAE

Teenager one of many youngsters getting an opportunity in new-look national team

UAE's Jonathan Figy during the World Cup League 2 match against Scotland at the ICC Academy in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
UAE's Jonathan Figy during the World Cup League 2 match against Scotland at the ICC Academy in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

When Jonathan Figy became the third teenager to debut for the UAE in the space of a week in Dubai on Sunday, he might have been forgiven for feeling nerves.

It had been five months since he had last played a competitive match of any sort, and that was a school game at Winchester College in the UK.

The majority of his training since had amounted to a once-a-week indoor nets in Leeds, where he has since moved for university, plus some work in the gym.

And, not long ago, the team he was facing – Scotland – had beaten an England side who were soon to become world champions.

When his chance at one-day international cricket came, though, Figy was so eager to get started he nearly tripped over himself racing to get started.

Vriitya Aravind, his fellow teen, had just been given out in contentious circumstances, after UAE had made a confident start to their chase of 221 to win against Scotland in Dubai on Sunday.

Figy headed to the crease with such haste for his first go at men’s international cricket, he nearly stumbled.

“I was quite nervous, but I was trying to be as energetic as I could,” Figy, 18, said.

“On the trip, my pads got a little in the way, but it wasn’t too bad.”

A mountain of runs in school cricket both in the UAE and the UK have meant Figy’s path to international cricket has felt marked for some time now.

Once he had started, he appeared to the manner born.

He showed an assurance beyond his years in reaching 23, so much so that it was a shock when he then holed out on the boundary, while he and Chirag Suri were neatly piecing together the run chase.

Suri, Basil Hameed and Mohammed Usman subsequently combined to bring about a morale-boosting win for the national team, but Figy felt he had spurned an opportunity.

“In the UK the ball seams around a bit, and it is bowler friendly, and can take time to settle in,” the Dubai-born batsman said.

“Over here, I found the wicket really flat, and easy to play your shots through the line.

“I enjoyed batting on a good wicket, but I was disappointed I hit that shot.

“I was batting really well, and we were taking the game away from them, but that gave them an opening.

“I thought of hitting the ball down, but it carried all the way there. It was a disappointing shot.

“Hopefully it is something I learn from as I play more and more games.”

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Dec 15– 2019 :- Figy John of UAE playing a shot during the World Cup League 2 cricket match between UAE vs Scotland held at ICC academy in Dubai. UAE won the match by 7 wickets. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Sports. Story by Paul
Jonathan Figy of the UAE during the World Cup League 2 match against Scotland. Pawan Singh / The National

On the evidence of this one match, it must be hoped this is the first of many games ahead for the left-hander, who is a product of the Zayed Cricket Academy in Abu Dhabi.

Ahmed Raza, the UAE captain, was impressed by the way the young debutant had blocked out the noise of his more experienced counterparts.

“The Scottish players love a chat in the middle, but he was very focused,” Raza said of Figy.

“I was talking to him after he got out, and he was so disappointed.

"When he came out of the dressing room, we were saying to him, ‘Good start.’

“But he said, ‘No, I’m not happy. I should have won the game for the team.’

"These players are coming in with that attitude, which is great.”

Figy was one of three university students in the XI to face Scotland. Aravind is still at school, while Suri and Hameed are just 24 and 26 respectively.

The age profile of the national team altered entirely for their first World Cup League Two assignment.

The corruption scandal that has stained the game here in recent months has brought with it the sort of opportunities for young players that were scarce in the past.

“In the past, UAE cricket hasn’t really backed a lot of youngsters,” Figy said.

“The team has been 'old', and there haven’t been many youngsters.

“Seeing a number of U19 players in the squad, and players I have played with as well, you can definitely see this change.

“Given what has happened over the year in cricket, it has probably done more good than bad, I would say.

“It is something new, and there is something we can build towards in the future, building towards the 2023 World Cup in India.”

Updated: December 16, 2019 04:39 PM

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