x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Mani confident schools contest will discover talent

Dilawar Mani is hopeful players competing in the Abu Dhabi inter-school cricket tournament will step up to play for the UAE's junior sides.

Shadab Aktar of the Abu Dhabi Indian School plays a shot during their inter-school cricket tournament against International school in April. This year's tournament starts on Friday.
Shadab Aktar of the Abu Dhabi Indian School plays a shot during their inter-school cricket tournament against International school in April. This year's tournament starts on Friday.

ABU DHABI // The Abu Dhabi inter-school cricket tournament could be a stepping stone for young players to represent the country's Under 16 and Under 19 teams in the Elite Cup of Asia next year, according to Dilawar Mani, the Emirates Cricket Board chief executive.

The third schools tournament, which will see 49 matches played over a four-month period, has drawn a record 13 schools and 25 teams playing in three different age groups - the U14, U16 and an open age for school first teams.

The competition starts on Friday at Zayed Cricket Stadium and the national youth team selectors will be at the matches to look for players to represent the country next summer in Malaysia.

"I would like to see cricketers from Abu Dhabi, through their good performances, strongly represented in these competitions," Mani said. "It is a wonderful opportunity for those aspiring young cricketers. I am aware there are some talented youngsters that have come through our system, the MCC-Zayed Cricket Academy, and representing the schools."

Mani also announced, a "Spirit of Cricket" award would see the team playing the game according to its traditions win a prize of Dh10,000.

"The team that gets the highest marks from a core committee comprising of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council umpires and match referees will win this award," Mani said.

"When it comes to cricket, particularly at the grassroots levels, it touches my heart, because I have gone through this phase. The sport builds character and discipline among the youngsters."

Wajahat Husain, the president of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council, feels the introduction of the academy six years ago is starting to reap rewards.

"It is very gratifying we are holding this tournament for the third year with the participation on the rise every passing year." Husain said.

"We started with two age group events, the U14 and U16 in 2009/2010, and last year we added the open age category."

Teams taking part

Under 14: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Arab Pakistan School, Sherwood, Our Own English High School, Cambridge High School, Abu Dhabi Indian School, Emirates Future International, Sunrise and Model.

Under 16: Abu Dhabi Indian School, Sunrise, Model, Sherwood, Cambridge, International School of Choueifat, Our Own English High School, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Arab Pakistan School.

First team: Abu Dhabi Indian School, Asian International-Ruwais, Asian International-Madinat Zayed, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Arab Pakistan School, Sunrise, Cambridge, Model, Al Nahda National School, Indian Islahi.

apassela@thenational.ae