UAE may not host World Cup qualifiers

Dubai hasn't yet been permitted to import soil samples from other cricket nations to replicate playing conditions there.

updated: September 11, 2008 16:03 IST
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United Arab Emirates may lose the right to host next year's ICC World Cup Qualifiers as the Dubai Sports City is yet to secure permission for importing soils from various cricketing nations to replicate batting conditions in its grounds here.

DSC proposed to import native soils from various cricketing nations for its academy cricket fields, but the ambitious plan appears to be backfiring, owing to delays in securing import permission.

"We are trying to take a cutting edge approach to the cricket facilities, in terms of importing soil. We have the Pakistani soil, but it has taken us a long time to get the permit for the Australian soil. That has just now been approved," Macky Dudhia, the general manager for sports business at DSC told Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper.

"Whether we got the soil on time was touch and go, as well as having all the grass growing properly. We felt that to do all that by April might be a big challenge. We don't want a situation where the soil came in late and the grass wasn't ready."

This means some of the pitches would not be ready in time for the tournament and if that happens, next April's 12-team qualifiers, which will decide the final four places for the 2011 World Cup, could be moved to another country, the newspaper reported.

Reports say that the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has lodged a request with the ICC to postpone the event until the final quarter of 2009; however, ICC has refused to comment until it had reached a decision.

The original plan is to host the tournament on six grass venues. While Sharjah Cricket Stadium, the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi and the Al Dhaid Cricket Village are all functioning, the academy ovals at DSC are not.

The main 25,000-seater stadium is almost certain to be ready by January, but DSC has only just secured the permit to import soil from Australia for the outside grounds.