DUBAI: Sports fans visiting Expo 2020 Dubai had the opportunity to meet New Zealand cricket coaches Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum as they toured the New Zealand Pavilion before stopping off at Tiaki restaurant.
Both coaches are ambassadors of QualityNZ, suppliers of Aotearoa New Zealand’s products and services to the rapidly expanding Indian and wider South Asian market. Fleming is the most capped Test player in New Zealand history with as many as 111 Tests under his belt and remains the only Kiwi player to have scored more than 7,000 runs in Test cricket. McCullum is the first player to make 100 consecutive Test appearances from his debut.
Following the New Zealand Pavilion tour, Stephen Fleming said, “The popularity of cricket has increased and that’s probably due to the shortest form of the game, T20, while T10 in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, is a popular format, so there are now more vehicles to spread the cricket word. There’s been a lot of work implemented into all aspects of cricket to increase opportunities in performance cricket, including women’s cricket and racial equality. There’s still work to do but the cricket fraternity, through franchises and mixing with other cultures, is enabling us to understand each other a bit more.”
Brendon McCullum, said, “Due to COVID-19, cricket has almost been centred in the UAE. We’ve been welcomed with open arms. Thankfully, the infrastructure and the facilities here are magnificent so the UAE has been able to host, not just the IPL [Indian Premier League], but also the upcoming T20 World Cup and various other series, too. We’re very lucky to have the opportunity to play sport here.”
On New Zealand’s relations with India, Stephen Fleming said, “Pre-COVID-19, we had a lot of Indian visitors coming to New Zealand, including honeymooners, and we are expecting more again after COVID-19. There’s a great affinity with New Zealand culture and way of life in India.”
The New Zealand Pavilion, located in the Sustainability District, under the theme ‘Care for people and place’, highlights the Māori value of ‘kaitiakitanga’ (which means ‘guardianship’ or ‘protection’ in English) and also showcases the country’s culture and cuisine. The building design illustrates ‘waka taonga’ (which means ‘treasure house’ in English).