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The rumbling debate over the number of expats included in several leading Associate sides has resurfaced after comments from Syed Ashraful Haq, the chief executive of the Asian Cricket Council, that some of them should not enter next year’s Asian Games.
Haq’s remarks came because of a change of rules regarding eligibility for the Games which state only passport holders of the participating countries can take part. For some that would leave them fielding second or third XI teams. UAE, for example, only had two eligible players in their side at the recently-completed ACC Twenty20 tournament.
Asked if UAE should send a side to the Games, Haq said: “My conviction is that they should not … they should not undermine the tournament.
“They cannot send a team who cannot play the game. They cannot bowl out a team like India or Pakistan and then get bowled out for 10. It will undermine the whole game and also jeopardise our chances of taking the game forward. It takes out all the countries from the Middle East.”
Haq’s comments brought a predictably stinging response from the man managing the all-Emirati side. “I have worked with Ashraful Haq for many years and have never heard him give a good piece of advice,” Abdulrazzaq Kazim told the local National newspaper. “Why should we listen to him now? We will go. Of course, if we play against India or Sri Lanka or Pakistan, we will lose. But if we don’t go, from where will get the experience? It is of benefit for us to go and play there.”
Dilawar Mani, chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board, endorsed that view. “Of course we are not in the same level of the elite teams but if China can field a team as the host, why not the others,” he told the newspaper.
It seems unlikely the UAE will not send a team, but Haq’s comments have raised a genuine question being asked by many. If a team consists almost entirely of expats, can it be considered truly representative?
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.