Dubai: The UAE is known for making the impossible possible in all spheres of life, and this fast-moving country has also created many landmarks in cricket, putting it almost on a par with the established Test-playing nations.
When Abdul Rahman Bukhatir first brought international cricket to Sharjah in the early 1980s, many wondered how the sport could be played in a desert. But Sharjah Cricket Stadium has gone on to clinch a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for hosting more One Day International matches than any other venue in the world. Needless to say, this would not have been possible without the enthusiasm of cricket fans in this country.
Later, when the idea of a Test series being staged here was first considered, its practicality was also questioned. But today the UAE is a regular Test centre, with Pakistan using the country as its home ground while their country is considered unsafe to host international matches.
Once again, it was made possible by the enthusiasm of the fans that led to the creation of three world-class venues — the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium and the Sharjah stadium.
When the International Cricket Council (ICC) was in search of a new location for its headquarters after deciding to leave England, this country was under consideration, but many questioned its eligibility, given that the UAE did not even have a team playing any form of international cricket.
But the UAE became the ICC’s headquarters by popular consent and today it has one of the world’s best state-of-the-art cricket academies in its premises. Almost all nations now prefer to stop over in the UAE for training at this facility. Umpires and coaches also fly in here to sharpen their skills.
The UAE has thus transformed itself into a cricketing hub. As a reply to the sceptics who questioned its eligibility to house cricket’s headquarters, this year they qualified to play in three World Cups — the 2015 50-over World Cup, the 2014 World Twenty20 and the Under-19 World Cup. All this has been made possible by the passion for the game that people living in this country possess.
So it was natural that, when the Indian Premier League (IPL) was looking for a venue to stage its early matches this year due to elections in their country, the UAE was heavily favoured.
Soon after the UAE was selected to host the first leg of IPL-VII, David Richardson, the ICC Chief Executive, said: “The IPL 2014 matches will complete a remarkable season of cricket in the UAE, This news comes on the back of the on-field success of the UAE national team and has the potential to propel cricket’s profile to new heights in the country.”
With tickets for the IPL being sold out quickly, fans here have revealed their hunger to witness the event’s glitz, glamour and sporting thrills. The IPL in the UAE is expected to be a terrific success and let’s not be surprised if it becomes a regular venue for this event in the future.