x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Kuwaitis seek national pride in Al Ain tournament

A team of Kuwaiti cricketers have expressed their excitement at the prospect of playing in the first cricket tournament solely for GCC nationals.

DUBAI // A team of Kuwaiti cricketers have expressed their excitement at the prospect of playing in the first cricket tournament solely for GCC nationals, which is scheduled to be staged in the UAE next month. The Gulf Cup, which is the brainchild of the UAE batsman Alawi Shukri, is planned to coincide with Eid al Adha, starting on November 27, and to be played in Al Ain. The idea was spawned from the desire of each of the competing nations to field a side at the Asian Games, also known as Asiad, in China November next year.

As per Olympic rules, only passport holders are permitted to represent their country in the Asian Games, which will take place in Guangzhou. Oman were the first nation to signal their aim to play at the Asiad, which in turn sparked their GCC neighbours into action. The Twenty20 Gulf Cup was originally scheduled to involve four teams, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, as well as the hosts, UAE. The plans have since been revised after a side of Saudi nationals expressed their desire to participate.

The Gulf Cup provides an opportunity to prove talented national players are also playing the sport, according to Kuwait's captain, the veteran off-spinner Taher Bastaki, who expects to have a squad of 14 for the competition. "We should have Kuwaitis representing their national team, and for us to be able to play in a competition like this is overwhelming," he said. "For us it will be a real challenge. We want to represent our country - represent our country as a national team.

"When we come here, we are not looking to be placed as the winners, or finish runners-up. We are just looking to play for the name of Kuwait. "Maybe our team will be weak, but we just want to play so that we can show everybody there are GCC nationals who are playing cricket." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae