The 16-year-old Zayed Cricket Academy teenager made his debut in the team’s season opener
Ethan D’Souza during the opening match. — Submitted photo
Ethan D’Souza on Wednesday night became the youngest player ever to represent Team Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi T10 history when the 16-year-old Zayed Cricket Academy batsman featured in the capital against reigning champions Deccan Gladiators.
Originally among the substitutes, D’Souza was a late replacement for United Arab Emirates international Alishan Sharafu, who rolled his ankle in the warm-up.
This opened the door for D’Souza to make history at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, located next to the Academy, where the teenager has played since the age of seven.
D’Souza has previously sat in the same stadium watching the Abu Dhabi T10 as a fan, but on Wednesday night he stood up himself.
The Year 11 student from Abu Dhabi Indian School made a safe catch in the deep to remove Sultan Ahmed on a night to remember for the youngster, the family watching in the stands and everyone at Team Abu Dhabi.
It was a great feeling. You never expect opportunities like this, but when you get them, you just want to do well,” D’Souza said.
“I saw my friends and family in the country and it showed me where I was two or three years ago when I came to watch the Abu Dhabi T10 as a fan. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I want to make the most of it in this tournament. I was nervous the first two or three turnovers, but once I got used to it, it was the same. Every play you have to watch the ball and when the catch came, I told myself to do whatever I want.”
Team Abu Dhabi coach Paul Farbrace was proud of his youngster’s performance.
“I thought Ethan was outstanding, he was brilliant on the field, he took the catch well, he was calm under pressure and he’s been training brilliantly the last couple of days,” Farbrace said.
“Ethan was a real bonus for us and also for the kids in the area and the kids here in Abu Dhabi to see that if you train and play well, in the right way, opportunities will come and he was a real credit to himself and his family.
“It was fantastic for Zayed Cricket Academy and Abu Dhabi Cricket and Sports Hub to think that a 16-year-old young man can come into the team, be selected and play in the first game of the tournament. It’s absolutely brilliant and should act as a real incentive for young cricketers in the region to if they work hard, the opportunities are there.”
Team Abu Dhabi eventually fell short of Deccan Gladiators, losing by 19 runs, but Farbrace singled out D’Souza’s performance as more important.
He said: “It is bitterly disappointing not to have won the game but we are delighted that all the good work that is going on at the Zayed Cricket Academy and the Abu Dhabi Cricket and Sports Hub is really paying off. It speaks volumes for the coaches and the academy.” “
Team Abu Dhabi welcomed England international James Vince to the squad on the eve of the tournament, with the 31-year-old opener replacing fellow countryman Phil Salt, who is out through injury.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid will also join his Team Abu Dhabi teammates on Thursday and will be available for selection when the team next face Delhi Bulls on Friday.