ICC Media Release
Four years ago, on the lush, green grass of Castle Avenue in Dublin, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates was beaten by the Netherlands in what was perhaps the single most important match in that year's ICC Trophy.
It was not the final or even the third/fourth-place play-off but the fifth/sixth-place play-off and considering the top five teams from that tournament won a place at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies, it must have seemed like a winner-take-all affair.
Back now in the somewhat more sandy surrounds of Dubai, Khuram remembers bitterly the feelings of that day when Dutchmen jumped for joy and the world fell out of the UAE's World Cup dream. But for every crushing defeat there is a rebuilding and Khuram now believes the time is right for cricket in the Emirates to make a long-awaited comeback from the heights it attained by reaching the previous 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
'Preparations are going very well,' said the 37-year-old all-rounder speaking about next month's ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier (as the ICC Trophy is now known) which will take place in South Africa from 1 to 19 April.
'We started a couple of months ago with our new coach (former Sussex and England batsman) Colin Wells and the guys are shaping up very well. We have some new players, some youngsters in the team so it looks good for the future as well but we are ready now,' he said.
Asked about his side's aspirations going into the big event considering the relative strength of some of the other competing teams, Khuram is unequivocal.
'Our goal is to qualify for the World Cup. We have played against some of the teams such as Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands and others – they are very good teams but we are going well. We have played some practice matches and we are also involved in the Emirates Airline Pro-Arch tournament against six English county teams taking place in the UAE. I'm sure the other teams are working hard but our preparations are going well too.
There is obviously a development factor in mind for Khuram and he is anxious that the sport should continue to be promoted in the UAE.
'I think cricket will grow in the UAE, especially if we qualify for the World Cup. The ICC moving here is also a boost for cricket in the UAE as is the completion of the cricket stadium in Dubai Sports City and the ICC Global Cricket Academy. So cricket is developing here day by day.
'Cricket has a huge following in the UAE especially if you take the big expatriate populations from places like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. For locals it's not the number-one sport but there are many local people who play the game and that number is increasing,' he said.
United Arab Emirates (squad): Khuram Khan (captain), Saqib Ali, Arshad Ali, Amjad Ali, Amjad Javed, Naeem Uddin, Fahad al Hashimi, Zahid Shah, Sameer Nayak, Fayyaz Ahmed, Nithin Gopal, Qasim Zubair, Ravi Kumar, Owais Hameed, Muhammed Aman.