Two tame defeats to Netherlands and Ireland revealed the gap that exists between the amateurs of UAE and the leading lights of the Associate world. They are yet to play Test nation Zimbabwe, but UAE's World T20 campaign has already come to an end.
They fell short both on fitness and skill levels, more the former. While they will have picked up plenty of insights by participating in a world tournament, as their captain Khurram Khan agreed, he was also forthright in admitting that unless more professionalism was introduced by administrators back home, it will be difficult for UAE to bridge the distance between themselves and top Associates. While UAE do have the services of a respected former Test cricketer in Aqib Javed as their coach, the squad is composed entirely of part-time cricketers.
"The cricket board and the authorities in the UAE have to look into this matter," Khurram said. "Obviously if you are not professional...even if at least five, six, seven, eight guys, if you make them professional, let them get fit, I think it is going to make a difference. It is a good idea, the suggestion is already there and hopefully they are working on it."
Professional or not, UAE had earned their right to share this platform, and Khurram had said earlier that playing in this World T20 this was the biggest moment for them. He was confident that the exposure would assist his side's development considerably. Their next challenge at this level will come in less than a year at the World Cup.
"Definitely it is going to help a lot. The teams that we are playing at the world stage, we have not been exposed to such a stage. So obviously we are going to learn a lot from here and that is what we are doing. We already tried working hard since we came from New Zealand (where they played the World Cup qualifier). There wasn't enough time to prepare for this tournament but hopefully we will go back and start working hard for the next one."
While Khurram had blamed poor fielding and bowling for the defeat to Netherlands, he said UAE had just not been able to put enough runs on the board to push Ireland. "On this wicket the score was below par to be honest. If you look at the previous games 140-150 has been regularly achieved here. So 25-30 runs short on this wicket because of the finishing overs. I think we did not score much in the last few overs. In the last two-three games, every time that has been happening."
Not that the UAE batsmen fell short for lack of trying. They kept going for the big shots but were pulled down by eight overs worth of dot balls. Khurram admitted they had tried too hard, and in the end, could come up with neither enough boundaries nor rotate strike regularly.
"Let us not take any credit from them. They bowled very well, in very good areas. We were looking to get boundaries. The batsmen who were batting at that stage did not try to get singles. That does not mean you cannot get a boundary also. So a mix of both. We tried to get boundaries and did not concentrate on singles at that stage.
"There were a couple of times when we sent a guy in with the message that if you are not getting boundaries at least keep getting the runs , rotate the strike, and in between you will get the boundary. I think that was the difference in the end. We could not get enough boundaries in the last four or five overs to put pressure on the opponents."