Arabian Cricket Challenge

Counties head for UAE pre-season event

Martin Williamson

November 5, 2007

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Tournament fixtures

Five counties will join UAE in a six-team event in the United Arab Emirates next March as part of their pre-season preparations.

Essex, Lancashire, Somerset, Sussex and Yorkshire will all compete in the Arabian Cricket Challenge which will be held at the state-of-the-art Abu Dhabi Stadium with two matches in Sharjah.

"Sussex and Essex came out on pre-season last year and played against each other in Abu Dhabi," organiser Mathew Jackson told Cricinfo. "They enjoyed it so much that that they requested to play other counties this year."

The main problems facing counties with pre-season tours is the unknown standard of the opposition and uncertainty over the pitches they are likely to play on. By arranging county-standard opponents at top-class venues, those fears have been removed.

The sides will play four 50-over matches - each of them will miss playing one other county - with a trophy for the winners. On most days there will be two games on each ground, with match starting in the morning followed by a day-night match.

"The aim is to develop the cricket in the UAE," Jackson said. "The climate and the proximity to the UK - it's only six and half hours flying time - during the off season means that it could become like Florida where they hold baseball spring training." While no official sponsor has yet been found, Jackson is in talks with several interested parties.

The highlight of the event is what is believed to be the first competitive Roses match outside the UK (the sides met in a friendly in South Africa last year).

The organisers will also be staging an Under-19s school tournament at the same time. It will feature sides from Worth, Wellington, Eastbourne and St Bedes in a round-robin 40-over competition.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson 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.
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