Ahmed Raza says it is an exciting time to be a UAE cricketer as they get set for a season that includes a trip to the T20 World Cup and potential home fixtures against India and Pakistan.
The national team will return to action with a one-day international against Scotland in Aberdeen on Wednesday.
It is the first game of a tri-series, also involving the United States, in Cricket World Cup League 2.
After playing four ODIs in the space of six days in Scotland, the UAE will then switch formats to T20, with the Asia Cup qualifier in Muscat at the end of August.
If they succeed there they will face matches against the might of India, in Dubai, and Pakistan, in Sharjah.
A little over a month later, they will head to Australia for the opening round of the T20 World Cup, where they will play the Netherlands, Sri Lanka and Namibia.
The spirit of optimism is not confined to the men’s game. The women’s national team, who are on a world-record equaling run of 21 games unbeaten in T20I cricket, have an upcoming challenge of their own.
They will play for a place in the Women’s T20 World Cup, at the global qualifier in Abu Dhabi in September.
They have been drawn in a group with Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea and Thailand for the matches at Zayed Cricket Stadium and the Tolerance Oval in the capital.
“These are really exciting times,” Raza, the captain of the men’s side, said.
“These four ODIs could put us in a really good position in the table. Scotland are above us, and the USA are not far away, so we really want to get some wins to cement our position in the top three.
“If we can get four out of four, we would be in great stead heading forward.
“Then after this there is the Asia Cup qualifier, then the World Cup, so it is a really exciting time to be a cricket player. It is such a great opportunity.”
Aberdeen, where they start their campaign, is the most northerly venue at which the UAE have played international cricket.
Although the UK is in the grip of its hottest summer on record, the prevailing temperatures are some way short of those the touring players have been training in in Dubai.
The forecast for Wednesday suggests highs of 23ºC and minimal chance of rain.
“Scotland is a lot cooler, which I knew – but it is just too cold!” Sharjah-born Raza said.
“It is our first time to Scotland since 2016, but that time was in Edinburgh [nearly 200km south of Aberdeen]. Those were very different conditions.
“We have plenty of depth in our squad, which is a great position to be in. Having headaches over selection as we have means you are doing really well.
“Keeping in mind we finished the series in the USA really well [winning matches against both Scotland and United States last time out in Texas] we are in a good position, and would love to continue that.”
The top three sides in the seven-team competition will progress directly to the World Cup Qualifier.
Oman, who have completed all of their 36 matches already, are top of the table.
Scotland, who have 12 matches still to play, are 10 points behind in second place.
UAE, having played two matches less than Scotland, trail their hosts by eight points.
“As we moved into the heat and humidity of the summer our players and coaching team remained very focused and committed,” Robin Singh, the UAE coach, said.
“We are looking forward to getting this tour underway and putting the strategies we’ve been working on into play.”
Updated: August 09, 2022, 2:45 AM