The ICC Global Cricket Academy will literally break new ground when it opens for business in early 2008.

The Academy, part of the Dubai Sports City development, will import soil from the United Kingdom, Asia and Australia as part of its mission to offer attendees the chance to experience as wide a range of conditions as possible.

Former Australia wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh, who is the ICC Global Cricket Academy's first Director of Coaching, said: 'By bringing soil in from abroad, it will allow us to create various types of pitches at the ICC Global Cricket Academy.

'We will be able to provide surfaces that offer seam movement, pace and bounce or spin and that means the ICC Global Cricket Academy will be an ideal location for teams as they prepare for tours.

'The fact we are based in Dubai is an added bonus because geographically it is a perfect stopping-off point for sides ahead of the majority of tours.'

The Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Sports City, U.Balasubramaniam, said: 'This is just one of a whole series of innovations that emphasize just how truly global the ICC Global Cricket Academy is.

'We intend to be a focal point for the game and because Dubai Sports City will also feature a host of other sports including football, rugby, golf, hockey and tennis there will be the opportunity for all participants to learn world's best practice from each other.'

Another one of the innovations the ICC Global Cricket Academy is looking to enact is the creation of a first universal standard for cricketing qualifications.

Rodney Marsh said: 'At the moment there is no way of knowing, for example, how a coaching qualification in one country relates to a qualification somewhere else.

'What we are looking to establish is a series of benchmarks that everyone can understand and recognize, something that will allow people to know exactly where they sit in the scheme of things.'

The facilities at the ICC Global Cricket Academy will include:

  • Two international standard cricket grounds, each with a square of seven pitches
  • 48 outdoor net pitches which will allow proper run-ups for bowlers at both ends as well as the chance for wicketkeepers to practice their skills
  • Six indoor pitches of varying pace with an area large enough for full-scale centre-wicket practice
  • State-of-the-art video analysis, medical and fitness facilities
  • Accommodation for attendees
These facilities will be available to a broad spectrum of cricketers in ICC member countries from juniors to full international teams, encompassing both men's and women's cricket. The ICC Global Cricket Academy will be a focal point for the training and development of cricket players, coaches, umpires, curators and administrators. It will be a foundation tenant of the innovative Dubai Sports City project, the world's first integrated sports city, that will see a multitude of sports brought together in a development of 50 million square feet. The vision of Dubai Sports City has brought together world-class partners to create a destination that has the best of breed from all sports. It will feature:
  • Four state-of-the-art sports stadiums:
    • 60,000 capacity multi-purpose for football, rugby and track and field
    • 25,000 capacity cricket stadium
    • 10,000 multi-purpose stadium for all hard-court games, ice hockey and concerts
    • Field hockey stadium
  • A spectacular Ernie Els Design championship golf course
  • Butch Harmon School of Golf
  • Manchester United Soccer Schools
  • David Lloyd Tennis Academy
  • World Hockey Academy

It is all part of the development of a living city within a city created in the desert that will be a vibrant hive of activity 365 days in every year and including residential and commercial properties.

There will be related amenities such as hotels, entertainment outlets, schools, a specialist sports medical centre and a sports-themed shopping mall.

Rod Marsh and Mr. Balasubramaniam are in India to meet stakeholders and let them know about the ICC Global Cricket Academy and also get feedback on what those stakeholders want from the facility.

Marsh said: 'We are here as part of our program to raise global awareness for the ICC Global Cricket Academy and emphasize what we can offer.

'In the past people from the Asian subcontinent often looked to England or Australia for the type of things we will be offering but now they will have a world-class facility on their doorstep.

'We are also here to listen to what stakeholders want because it would be pointless to develop a Global Cricket Academy without being mindful of their wishes.'

Marsh and Balasubramaniam have already visited Ahmedabad and Chandigarh and will move on to Mumbai later in the week where they will not only meet more stakeholders but also make a presentation to the ICC's Executive Board.