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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

‘Dream come true’ as UAE women’s cricketers to share field with Big Bash League stars

DUBAI // Three UAE cricketers will share a field with some of the leading players in the women’s game in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Esha Oza, Natasha Michael and Chaya Mughal have been drafted in to play in a tour match between Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder.

The two sides are on tour in the UAE, in the early phase of their preparation for next season’s Women’s Big Bash League in Australia.

The rival sides include a number of the best-known players in the international game, including Ellyse Perry, Lisa Sthalekar, and Stafanie Taylor, the West Indian World Twenty20 winner.

The two sets of players trained alongside the UAE national team at the ICC Academy in Dubai on Friday.

The three national team players were called in as cover for Sixers players who have been injured in training during the tour, and will play in a Twenty20 friendly match in the capital, starting at 2pm.

“I’m speechless,” said Michael, a 21-year-old allrounder who first represented the senior UAE side when she was just 12.

“I found out yesterday, and I was ecstatic. Some of my idols will be there. Our manager texted me and I was like, ‘How, when, where, what?’

“She told us it was a really good opportunity and asked if I was free. I said: ‘I would cancel everything for this chance!’

“It is nerve-racking, because people like Ellyse Perry and Lisa Sthalekar are there. Lisa is my idol, she was commentating in the IPL for the past couple of months.

“I spoke to her, got some pictures and she is really funny. Ellyse is very down to earth, too, which help put us at ease.”

The Emirates Cricket Board have increased their focus on the women’s game this year, as they eye qualification for future ICC events.

That has included the inception of a new, four-team national domestic competition, which was won last month by Sharjah Cricket Academy.

Despite signs of progress within the game here, the step up to playing alongside the WBBL luminaries will be a significant one.

Mughal, another allrounder who bowls medium-pace and opens the batting for the UAE, says it would be a “dream come true” to make a mark against the stars of Sydney cricket.

As a kindergarten teacher at the Ambassador School in Dubai, she was confident she would get time off work to play.

“At the same time there are nerves and excitement, worrying if we are going to meet their expectations or not,” Mughal said.

“It is a thrill for us. I just want to give 100 per cent, if it is batting, bowling or fielding. Whatever chance I get, I want to make the most of it.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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