x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE cricket chief Dilawar Mani looks back with pride

The chartered accountant, who will step down from his role with the Emirates Cricket Board on January 1, says he 'made right choices' for the growth of the game.

Dilawar Mani will move on five years after taking over as the first ever chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board. Christopher Pike / The National
Dilawar Mani will move on five years after taking over as the first ever chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) will for the first time see a change of leadership on January 1 when Dilawar Mani, the country's first ever chief executive, steps down from the role and hands over the reins to David East, a former cricketer who will end a 30-year association with English county side Essex to move to the UAE.

Mani, a chartered accountant, has implemented many changes since taking office five years ago, part of a constitutional change on the recommendations of the International Cricket Council, the world game's governing body.

He has helped improve the administrative side of the game, while players are better compensated for their commitments, with increased allowances on tours and bigger match fees for games.

"I think we have had some measure of success," Mani said. "We brought new governance, proper organisation and structure.

"The milestone is that players are now being compensated for the time that they have to take off from their work as not all of them get paid for the number of days they take off to represent the UAE."

Perhaps the most significant achievement of Mani's era has been the hiring of professional coaches - a source of pride for him. The UAE has employed Colin Wells of England, Kabir Khan, currently in charge of Afghanistan, and now Aaqib Javed, the former Pakistan pace bowler.

"Aaqib to me, of course, is somebody I respect very deeply and he is very highly regarded," said Mani, who was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

"I hope he will be very successful. I can look back and think I made the right choices for the right reasons for UAE cricket to grow."

Mani did not pursue a new term in office after completing his first three-year term, but he carried on in the role for two more years until the board of directors found a successor.

"Constitutionally, the term [for the chief executive] is three years and that was up, so I have asked not to be nominated again," he said last week.

"I have served two years more than my term and that is enough, and there is a need to set a precedent to leave once [you have] served your term and let somebody else work."

East is a former Essex wicketkeeper-batsman and their current chief executive.

"I've had all sorts of emotions making this decision," East, 53, told the BBC last week.

"I've had a fabulous time here; I'm leaving on very good terms. Obviously, it's been a large part of my life. It's a fantastic opportunity to develop my career internationally; it's an opportunity I couldn't miss."

Mani is doing all he can to smooth East's transition into the role.

"I am personally trying to address everything that he needs," Mani said.

"I have spent the last week being his secretary. This is because he had a lot of questions.

"I certainly hope I have made everything easy for him and that's for him to be vigil."

Mani is confident he is leaving UAE cricket in good shape.

"I think we brought UAE to a point that was extremely visible to the world of cricket," he said.

"At the same time I certainly hope whoever takes over from me and whoever takes over from my successor as well will look upon each period as a legacy and a transition. I hope they are all able to contribute."

apassela@thenational.ae

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