The Sharjah-based institution had a tour to remember Down Under
It’s not every day that you get to rub shoulders with an international cricketer – but the Desert Cubs Academy did just that on their trip to Australia.
The group of aspiring youngsters got to pick the brains of Australia’s 22-year-old rising star Sam Heazlett, who has featured for his country in ODI cricket, as well as receiving tips from ex-Australian all-rounder Andy Bichel at the Queensland High Performance Centre in Brisbane.
It came at the end of their two-week tour in Gold Coast and Brisbane where Desert Cubs’ Under-12, 14 and 16 sides tested themselves against their Australian peers in different formats.
“It was a great learning experience for Desert Cubs touring teams,” said head coach Presley Polonnowita. “They had the opportunity of getting some coaching tips from former Aussie great Andy Bichel during their practice session at Queensland High performance centre in Brisbane.
“On top of that, the tour ended with an award ceremony where the boys had the opportunity of meeting Sam Heazlett who has represented Australia national team. Sam was a great help and educated the players with his past experience of playing junior cricket in school as well as sharing his experience on how he overcame the barriers of becoming an international cricketer.”
Desert Cubs played a series of 40 and 50-over games as well as a two-day match. Among those to impress was Shrey Sethi with the U-12 skipper scoring a memorable unbeaten 100 against a formidable Brisbane Under-12 Selected XI. Hriday Savnani also scored a half-century while U-14 captain Dinuka Samarasingh scored a patient 78 in a 40-over clash.
Brandon Martis was unlucky to miss his century after falling on 98 but won many plaudits for the way he batted in the Under-16 category.
Polonnowita was pleased with the performances he saw from his players and is convinced the tour was a fantastic learning curve.
“It was a great opportunity for our young cubs to engage in longer version games as junior cricket in UAE does not fetch beyond 25 to 30 overs most of the time,” he said.
“The icing on the cake was playing against top quality regional teams from Gold Coast and Brisbane in lush green cricket grounds with hard and bouncy green tops to play on.
“We had a few Australian Under-16 national level players who played against the Desert Cubs Under-16 team, making the opponents much harder to tackle on their own back yard. We struggled during our first few games to keep up with their quality, agility and playing conditions but gradually bounced back towards the last few games. The Under-12 team showed their supremacy while winning six games out of 10 as well as the last T20 game.”