Then in 1984 international cricket made its first splash with the first-ever Asia Cup being held at the historic Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The Sharjah Stadium has since hosted record number of ODIs at the venue and has even made a place for itself in the Guinness Book of Records.
Not just short formats, even the longer format has found its way in the UAE. Pakistan has featured in almost Test cricket played in the UAE since 2002. Sharjah was again the first to host Test cricket in the Emirates.
It took a few more years for cricket in the UAE to find new venues within the country. Abu Dhabi was the next on the pit stop as it unveiled its world-class facility called the Zayed Cricket Stadium in 2005. Like with Sharjah, Abu Dhabi also began its journey with an India-Pakistan clash in 2006. Over the years, Abu Dhabi has also hosted Test cricket featuring Pakistan against various opponents.
The shift to Dubai's Dubai International Stadium happened much later in 2009 when the iconic stadium with a ring of lights came into existence. The Dubai Sports City is home to not just the stadium but also the ICC Academy with two Ovals with international status. The Academy is a world-class finishing school for budding cricketers and the Ovals attached to it are great breeding grounds.
Over the years both the Stadium and the Ovals at the ICC Academy have played host to cricket at international level. The two venues also played host to the 2012 and 2013 editions of the T20 World Cup Qualifier.
The collateral benefits of having three world-class cricket stadiums in UAE is that the national side and development squads have benefitted greatly from being groomed at great facilities. The UAE senior men's squad has been at the 1996 and 2015 50-over ICC Cricket World Cups. In recent years the senior men's squad have made rapid strides with the current ODI status being the biggest testament of the progress.
With improved facilities and greater opportunities, the UAE is poised to take off and a qualification via the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 will be the perfect icing on the cake.
© Cricket World 2019