x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UAE to get two shots at 2015 Cricket World Cup

New 50-over league and a 10 nation qualification tournament leaves UAE coach Kabir Khan 'excited' at prospect of reaching 2015 event.

Kabir Khan talks to his players during a net session at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Kabir Khan talks to his players during a net session at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

DUBAI // Kabir Khan, the UAE coach, has welcomed the International Cricket Council's decision to revamp the World Cup qualifying process, saying it gives the national team two separate routes to reach the competition.

The game's Dubai-based ruling body this week ratified a plan for a new 50-over international league for cricket's leading non-Test playing nations.

The top two nations from an eight-team league, which will include the UAE, will qualify automatically to join the 10 Test nations in the 2015 event in Australia and New Zealand.

Two more sides will also get another avenue to play at the competition, via a 10 nation qualification tournament, similar to the one at which the UAE finished sixth in 2009 in South Africa.

Kabir, the former Pakistan bowler, hopes the new format will improve the chances of the national team playing at a World Cup for the first time since 1996.

"I would like to think this will help us, because it gives us a double chance," Kabir, who returned to coach the UAE last year after overseeing Afghanistan's recent rise, said. "It is good for all the top eight teams because it gives them all a double chance to qualify. They can take their chances in the league competition, then if it doesn't happen that way, the World Cup qualifier gives them another go at it."

The restructuring means the vast majority of limited-overs cricket the national team play from now on will count towards qualifying for the World Cup.

"This will provide exciting context for the new 50-over league," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said in a statement announcing the changes.

The UAE's leading cricketers already have a busy season ahead, with the chance to qualify for next year's World Twenty20 Championship in Sri Lanka of uppermost significance.

Kabir's side play at the Asian T20 qualifying competition in Nepal in December. Succeed there and they will have home advantage in the World T20 qualifier, which takes place in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of next year.

Before then, they face Afghanistan, Asia's leading non-Test side, in the four-day Intercontinental Cup next month.

The squad have moved from their regular training camp at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, while the UAE's oldest venue undergoes renovation work ahead of the return of major international cricket when Pakistan play Sri Lanka there in November.

Instead, the national team are training at the ICC Global Cricket Academy at Dubai Sports City.

There is also the prospect of the UAE's players taking on the touring Test nations during warm-up matches ahead of Pakistan's series against Sri Lanka, and then England in January.

Kabir would be happy for his UAE side to provide the opposition during the warm-up games.

An idea has also been tentatively discussed about pitching a composite side, made up of the best emerging players from the non-Test playing nations, to play against the tourists.