x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai Cricket Council to bring back 50-over contest

DCC to resume tournament after six years, with or without sponsorship, with 16 of nation's best teams invited.

Mohamed Lokhandwala in the commentary box at the Dubai Sports City stadium during the Pakistan-South Africa series in 2011
Mohamed Lokhandwala in the commentary box at the Dubai Sports City stadium during the Pakistan-South Africa series in 2011

The Dubai Cricket Council (DCC) plans to restart its 50-over Division One competition after six years.

"It is a very, very difficult task to undertake but we are going to take on that challenge," said Mohamed Lokhandwala, the honorary general secretary of the DCC.

Dubai was a hotbed for cricket until Dubai Municipality took over all their grounds at Al Awir in 2006 for the development of buildings, leaving the council without any facilities to host games.

Organised games ground to a halt, with the 2006 Emirates Cup the last Division One tournament played at the DCC grounds.

"The DCC was almost defunct from that time except for the competitions organised by private entities and academies," Lokhandwala said. "At its peak, the DCC organised more than 700 matches and around 23 tournaments every season. We had more than 10 grounds, including a couple of turf pitches at our disposal."

Although world-class grounds have been built by private owners, the DCC, which is run by volunteers, cannot afford to use them.

"The facilities that are available now are beyond our means and it is not easy to find sponsors to meet the high costs," Lokhandwala said.

"This has hindered the staging of tournaments, especially at the top level. Playing daytime cricket is the best competition we can provide for the national team players as all the Asian Cricket Council competitions are played during the day.

"If we want to improve the level of play then there are no substitutes for competitions at the top level. It took us a lot of time to revive the Division One tournament in Dubai and let this be the start."

The DCC is still looking for sponsors to cover the cost of staging the tournament but the games will be played without any if needed.

"Being daytime matches, they will have to be played over the weekends and bank holidays and that's the time most of the grounds are booked or busy," Lokhandwala said. "We have sent out invites to the top 16 teams in the Emirates. And we hope to start the tournament in two weeks from now."

The matches will be played at the Fairground Oval at the Higher Colleges of Technology Dubai Men's College. The formation of the Domestic Cricket Development Committee under the aegis of the Emirates Cricket Board has been the catalyst for this move.

Lokhandwala said the success of the Blenheim Energy Division One day/night tournament staged from January to April earlier this year helped convince the DCC to start a new Division One competition.

apassela@thenational.ae

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