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Two years ago, former Pakistan fast bowler Aaqib Javed signed on as coach of the United Arab Emirates, a move prompted by the lack of opportunities in Pakistan and the demands of his family. In an interview to Wisden India, Javed shares his early memories of working with the team.
"All the players gave excuses. They said they couldn't train, they had jobs … I requested them to give three months to me, and after that, if they chose, they could leave," says Aaqib, his eyes smiling. "In three months, two of the fat guys had lost 25 kilos each and the others had also lost weight. They complained, but they were buying new clothes. When you train hard, you get mentally tough also. You are willing to work hard. They were feeling good."
At that stage, the team had just a one-member support staff - Aaqib. Over time, Aaqib has acquired assistant coaches, trainers, the usual group of people that a modern-day coach has around him at the top level. "I got tired, yaar," he says. "We got trainers, but I had to train them too! I needed a pool of players and even that I had to go and find. That's how it is. The administrators here are also part-timers. Things are improving now, but two years back, it wasn't so serious. But there was a desire to have a good team, which we have now."
T20 cricket has been dubbed the best vehicle to sell the game across the far reaches of the globe. But what happens when the bug bites but the players do not have the requisite equipment to mimic Chris Gayle's monstrous hits or Lasith Malinga's searing toe-crushers? A town in Cuba faced this conundrum but Scyld Berry's column, in the Telegraph, explains how a charity has taken responsibility of supplying the locals all they need to fuel their passion for cricket.
To see the impact of the arrival of four quality bats in Guantanamo was heart-warming, even for a bowler, and of the first cricket helmet the players had ever seen. A useful addition, because the first ball of our middle-practice - just short of a length - went three feet over the batsman's head.