Long gone are the days when a cricket team’s pre-match preparation involved five seconds of stretching on the pitch as the umpires walked out.
We live in an age where sporting stars are, with a few exceptions, at peak physical fitness and the modern cricketer is one such fine specimen.
So it’s no surprise that in the quest for top-level performances, the ICC Academy has built PowerBase, the UAE’s first cricket-specific gym.
Time Out Dubai took a tour around the new facility, the brainchild of the academy’s sport science guru Peter Kelly, and we were thoroughly impressed with the array of kit available. So too is the sport’s head honcho, ICC chief executive Dave Richardson, who believes such amenities can only improve standards in the UAE. “I think the beauty of this facility is that it’s available for not only the top teams but also the 11-year-old who wants to develop his game, he tells Time Out. “Nothing that Dubai does is ever of low quality or mediocre, and these facilities are probably better than any in the world. So there’s no excuse for people in the UAE not to take to the game and enjoy the fruits.”
Along with the PowerBase, which has a great mix of weight and strength-training gizmos along with an outdoor sprinting track, the academy has also built “the cage”, a training and practise pitch, enclosed nets-style.
Will Kitchen, the ICC Academy manager, believes this arena will become a huge hit with amateur and youth players, and that the UAE national team, who are soon to turn professional, will also reap the benefits.
“The combination of having a great place to train and having lots of time to train will, if nothing else, guarantee that the team will become fitter and stronger over the next six months,” Kitchen says.
“We hope a lot of that translates into better results. That’s one of the major rationales behind professionalising the team, so we can get them to improve.”
And the hope that the UAE can tap into the nation’s talent and become more competitive on the world stage is one Richardson shares. “Judging by the number of people who are interested in cricket and play cricket in the UAE, there’s no reason why they can’t be consistently in the top 16 teams in the world,” he says. “[The UAE] has got a huge expat population, many of whom are cricket fanatics, so there’s no real reason, aided by the facilities that exist now, for them not to improve to that level where they are, on a regular basis, qualifying for our major events.”
And as the gym’s slogan goes, with PowerBase, the chances of the nation’s cricketers improving “just got better”. Dhs300 (monthly membership). ICC Academy PowerBase