Dubai is a cricket-loving city, with a large portion of the population hooked on the sport, thanks in part to the size of the city’s Pakistani and Indian communities (with the Pakistani team still calling the UAE home due to ongoing security concerns back at home), not to mention those from Australia, Britain and beyond. The Ashes may have reached a close, but the post-summer action is heating up and as well as televised tests, the emirate is set to welcome a run of a live matches to Dubai Sports City from October onwards – including the highly anticipated Pakistan v South Africa and Sri Lanka series, likely to pull in the crowds. And fan devotion cannot be understated – last year, Pakistani Zaman Khan (now known as Uncle Twenty20), became the face of UAE cricket for quitting his job to return to Dubai just to watch the Pakistan v India match after being denied leave by his employer in Bangladesh. Want to know what all the fuss is about? Read on for our guide to the season.
Getting to know the game
‘In its classic and simplest format, cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven, on a field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch,’ explains David Jenkins, general manager of the International Cricket Council Academy (ICC Academy) in Dubai. ‘Each team takes it in turn to bat, attempting to score runs, while the other team fields. It sounds simple, but the game is riddled with wonderful little nuances that make it a compelling sport to practice, play and spectate – regardless of its format,’ he adds, noting variations of the game such as five-day series such as The Ashes, or limited over formats such as Twenty20, or even less. ‘It’s not the easiest sport to master,’ he admits, explaining that for this reason there are many global advocates for putting in the hours when it comes to training, focusing on core skills such as fielding, bowling and batting and ensuring players are suitably fit to play without risk of injury.