x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Fitness a priority for UAE coach Aaqib Javed

New emphasis on training during practice sessions as UAE prepare to take on the Netherlands in ICC Intercontinental Cup in July.

Aaqib Javed expects the Netherlands to present the UAE a stern test. Satish Kumar / The National
Aaqib Javed expects the Netherlands to present the UAE a stern test. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // The country's cricketers have been working out on the "English" pitches at the ICC's Global Cricket Academy in Dubai to get them used to European wickets ahead of their next Intercontinental Cup clash.

And during the sessions Aaqib Javed, the new coach, has been putting an increased emphasis on fitness to give his amateur players a more professional outlook.

The UAE travel to the Netherlands on July 16-19 for the fourth match in their cup campaign in what looks a close encounter.

The senior national side are fourth on the points table with 24, the same as the Netherlands and only head their next opponents on runs per wicket ratio.

In their first three matches, under Kabir Khan, the former coach, the UAE defeated Kenya by 266 runs in Nairobi and almost earned a second win against Afghanistan in Sharjah, before losing to Scotland by seven wickets in February.

Aaqib said the match against Holland will be as tough as the Scotland game, if not more, with the seamer-friendly conditions the UAE will encounter there.

The former Pakistan seam bowler has been busy with his preparations to make sure his players are ready.

"I have introduced the concept of training in our practice sessions," Aaqib said. "If you are fit, your fitness can help produce better results. So our main focus is to create that environment and give them an idea that, 'look, cricket is a four-dimensional game - batting, bowling, fielding and training'.

"So far, the players have shown a great interest and I think by the time we touch July, most of the guys will be pretty fit.

"That is my priority, to make sure in three months' time this UAE team should look a professional outfit."

Aaqib, who has worked with the likes of Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir in Pakistan, is also keen to increase his stock of fast bowlers, but concedes that will be a challenge given the conditions here.

"In these UAE conditions, it is really tough for bowlers," he said. "I have visited the academies and they have reasonable facilities for batsmen. The batsmen can play on cement pitches, but for a fast bowler, you need to have good, balanced run-ups, which is missing.

"So I think fast bowling will be a challenge.

"There are a few bowlers, around seven or eight, that I believe have the potential. But it is too early at this stage. There are a few who are very close to reaching the levels, which I have marked.

"In the first two weeks, I have focused mainly on starting our activities and now I believe the time is very near to start scrutinising, deciding who is better."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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