x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE women's cricket team bruised but unbowed after championship exit

Vice captain Chaitrali Kulgutkar calls for more practice matches ahead of their next competition after her team lost all their matches at the Asian Cricket Council Championship in Thailand, writes Amith Passela.

The UAE women's team management was happy with the bowling and fielding but conceded their batting needed improvement. Jeff Topping / The National
The UAE women's team management was happy with the bowling and fielding but conceded their batting needed improvement. Jeff Topping / The National

While there was an air of disappointment among the UAE's women cricketers after their winless run at the Asian Cricket Council Women's Championship, there are still some seeds of optimism for the future as well as an awareness of the work ahead in an effort to become more competitive.

The UAE lost all five of their games at the tournament in Thailand, and Chaitrali Kulgutkar, the vice captain, was honest in her assessment on how they fared.

"We should have done better because we had prepared well and were looking forward to some good results," she said. "However, that didn't happen. We can only take some of the positives from this experience forward to the next level. Ideally, our work should continue regardless if we want to remain competitive for the next competition."

Everyone from the administration to the players say the lack of competitive matches at domestic level was their biggest hurdle to improving. The situation has been the same since the UAE women's team made their debut in the ACC event in 2007.

A few games against some boys' age group teams were the UAE women team's only match practice before they set off for the ACC championship.

Kulgutkar, 30, a top-order batswoman and a medium pace bowler was playing in her second ACC women's championship and highlighted what needed to be addressed.

"The areas we need to improve are many," she said. "We need to improve our batting which let us down. The bowling and fielding was pretty good. Our fitness levels improved remarkably from the training we have had for more than three months.

"Obviously we need to play more games and get more girls to participate to increase the level of the competitions. If the administration can provide this they certainly would see the difference in the women's game."

Mohamed Hyder, the assistant coach, felt more has to be done if the women's team are to participate in such competitions but he took encouragement in some aspects of the UAE's displays.

"We can take some positives out of this tournament but to continue taking part in the continental event and to perform better, we need to draw up a long-term programme," the former UAE international said.

"Some of the positives were that our side was able to bat through the 25 overs in all the games. Our fielding was one of the best in the entire competition.

"What we lack is the match experience. For instance, the running between the wickets needs to improve as we lost too many wickets through run outs [10 in five games].

"This experience can only get better with more games."

Hyder is still optimistic the women's game has a bright future. The next tournament for them is the ACC Under 19 championship in March next year.

"We have around seven players in the senior team who are eligible for the U19 tournament next year," he said.

"They are fresh from the experience of playing in the ACC championship and the right thing would be to take this momentum forward and start preparing them from now.

"If we can gather a squad of 24 we can train as well as start playing matches regularly. My idea is to start from now so we have more than a year to have a good team in place."

apassela@thenational.ae

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