x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

England fans want Tests in the UAE

Barmy Army leaders believe a Test series involving England in the UAE would attract a sizeable contingent of cricket tourists.

DUBAI // The general, the bugler and Pink Panther may have been conspicuous by their absence, but England's famous travelling band of supporters, the Barmy Army, did have a presence at Dubai Sports City at the weekend. Around 50 supporters had made the trip to the Emirates with the tour party for the Twenty20 international series against Pakistan. With an Ashes series in Australia to save for later this year, the group's leaders were not surprised by the small take up in Dubai. However, they believe a Test series involving England in the UAE would attract a sizeable contingent of cricket tourists.

Paul Burnham, the co-founder of English cricket's most vocal supporters' club, said: "The Barmy Army tends to be a lifestyle where people tick off the countries they have been to and get the T-shirt from us. "I think it is definitely a tremendous location for cricket, even Test matches. When are we next going to play Pakistan in a Test match away? Hopefully it will be here. The Barmy Army still takes more supporters than any other tour groups to places like Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"This would still get those same people coming, but probably a few more because of the temptations of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They both have distinct advantages and are beautiful places to see, which obviously makes them more appealing to lots of people than Pakistan. "I think if England chose to stage a Test match here an awful lot of England supporters would come out. They would fill half the stadium at least."

Paul Collingwood, the England captain, was equally impressed by the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. "It is fantastic," he said. "It is one of those stadiums which doesn't need to be full for it to be noisy. The roof keeps the sound in and it would certainly be very noisy if it was full." pradley@thenational.ae