Thursday, February 28, 2008

English county cricket teams pick UAE for pre-season tournament

English county cricket teams pick UAE for pre-season tournament By K.R. Nayar, Senior Reporter GULF NEWS Published: February 28, 2008, 00:40

Dubai: Top English county cricket teams have found UAE as an ideal venue for a pre-season tournament.

"UAE is close to UK and has the weather and facilities to play professional cricket before the start of their season," said Matthew Jackson, the Chief Executive Officer Sports Arabia Ltd, the organiser of the Arch Trophy to be held in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi next month.

Top England Test stars like Andrew Flintoff, Marcus Trescothick, Ravi Bopara, Graham Gooch and Mushtaq Mohammad, representing five county teams, will play in the tournament.

"One of our companies, Arabian Cricket Ltd, a tour operator that specialises in organising cricket tours, organised a tour for Sussex and Essex last year.

"They enjoyed playing here. So we contacted the England Cricket board and International Cricket Council for approval to stage a tournament here. We are now sanctioned as an unofficial ICC event," added Jackson.

"We are also staging an Under-19 English schools tournament from March 26 to 31 at the Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi and a County Academy tournament in December," he said.

Jackson is keen to expand the Arch Trophy next year. "This will be an annual event contested mainly by English teams but we will soon include pro teams from other cricketing nations too," he said.

Elaborating on how he picked the five counties, Jackson said: "Sussex and Essex readily agreed as they played here last year. We approached Lancashire and Yorkshire because they are two of the biggest pro teams in the UK and Somerset as they are the English second division champions.

"We are also keen to develop cricket in UAE and invited the UAE team to gain from the experience of playing some of the best players in world cricket and help them in their quest to qualify for the next World Cup."

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