Thursday, December 12, 2019
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The sad plight of Dubai’s grass roots cricket scene

Dubai: Dubai may be a regular home ground for the Pakistan team, but the ordinary cricketers of this emirate have no ground to play on.

Despite the new season beginning in September last year and with all other councils in the UAE busy staging tournaments, the Dubai Cricket Council (DCC) is inactive. At a time when the UAE national team has qualified for the 2015 50-over World Cup and next month’s Twenty20 World Cup, the DCC sticks out like the sore thumb of domestic cricket.

Eight years have passed since the DCC had to surrender its eight grounds at Al Jaddaf for the construction of Dubai Healthcare City, and since then the council has failed to get a ground of its own, instead staging its tournaments by paying rent to private grounds.

Dubai used to be the most active among all the councils in the UAE, holding 25 events every season. The DCC also had a coaching academy and practice nets available for hire. But, after leaving Al Jaddaf, the DCC couldn’t even find a place to keep their floodlights, lawnmowers, rollers and other equipment, eventually relying on Freddy Sidhwa — a veteran cricketer and managing director of the Seven Seas Ship chandlers — after he made his premises available.

The DCC office that vanished along with the grounds has never been set up elsewhere, but the organisation’s permission is still mandatory for anybody who wishes to stage a tournament in Dubai. With the DCC having no official location, a mobile phone number is the contact point.

Private tournament organisers, who need permission and pay fees to the DCC, now question the authority of a body that does not even have an office. One event went so far as taking permission from the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) rather than the DCC, with many of the UAE’s top cricketers taking part.

The reasoning the DCC often gives for its inactivity is the construction boom that hit Dubai and took away all the open space needed to have a ground. But many private companies and individuals have managed to create playing fields and host matches and tournaments since the Al Jaddaf pitches were bulldozed.

The DCC had its own academy but has not revived it despite many private academies emerging in the emirate. These academies have created turf pitches for training in different parts of the city and fly in international coaches to train their players.

Though the DCC staged a few of its tournaments recently, it had to pay high rental charges for the grounds. The Emirates Cricket Board, under which the DCC functions, feels that all councils should function on their own. The question now is will DCC ever return to its glory days or remain an inactive council?