The T20 World Cup captain has sensationally resigned
In a shock move by the United Arab Emirates ahead of their T20 World Cup and Asian Cup campaigns, Ahmed Raza has been dropped as captain.
The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) made the shock announcement in a press release following the Cricket World Cup League Two tri-series in Scotland and ahead of the Asian Cup qualifier in Oman.
Raza retains his ODI captaincy, although the reins of the T20I have been handed to striker CP Rizwan, just three days before their game against Kuwait at Al-Amerat and two months before their T20 World Cup campaign.
The Emirati board in the announcement expressed their desire to split the white ball roles.
“The committee believes, after lengthy discussions and following a detailed review of the recent performances of the 50+ team, by providing the respective captains with a one-size-fits-all target, it is creating a solid succession plan for the leaders and encourages a singular commitment to fine-tuning the strategic components of the game on the pitch.
“The UAE T20 game is in good standing and has exceptional depth. This strategy comes at the optimal time to assess what is best suited for this format to enter the World Cup (ICC T20) and beyond. The UAE’s high performance unit believes this presents a solid opportunity to consider and open up all options – roster and captaincy – to move the game forward.”
The timing of the board is curious, given such a shocking change with major campaigns around the corner. In addition to the decision that comes so early in important matches, Rizwan, the man of confidence in the “succession plan”, is a year older than the one he replaces.
Raza led the team through arguably the toughest period in his country’s cricketing history, with a fixing scandal in 2019 decimating the team.
Ahead of schedule, Raza and Emirati enjoyed a successful 18 months. The senior squad are in contention for automatic qualification for next year’s Cricket World Cup qualifiers on the 50+ side, and the T20I squad have been imperious in the World Cup qualifier T20 earlier in the year.
Raza has an exceptional record as captain of the T20I team, winning 18 of 27 games at the helm. Since his permanent appointment in 2019, Raza’s winning percentage in the format was an impressive 68%.
Raza said only a few weeks ago icc-cricket.com of his excitement leading the team to Australia for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
“Your only goal is to go to the World Cup or get to the World Cup, or get to the world stage. I think as you mature as a player, as you mature as a person, you want to dream bigger, think bigger.
“It’s not just about getting to the World Cup, it’s about qualifying for the Super 12, making some upheavals there, getting people talking about UAE cricket about the best possible way, which we all deserve and this country deserves.
“I hope that even in October, it will not just be about my story. It will be about the emergence of cricket and the current situation of UAE cricket, and I hope that we will reach that level.
Rizwan comes into the role having played just seven T20Is, scoring just 100 carries at an average of just 16.66.
The United Arab Emirates will feature on the opening day of the 2022 T20 World Cup action, meeting the Netherlands in Geelong in Group A of the first round.