Events and people that shaped the game

No. 33


The neutral venue that stood like a beacon of hope for other offshore cricket venues

October 17, 2010

Text size: A | A

The Sharjah cricket ground, December 13, 1997
Some of the most exciting one-day matches have been played in Sharjah © Getty Images
Related Links


The Cricketers Benefit Fund Series held 198 one-day matches (more than any other centre), made around 150 players richer by amounts varying from US$15,000 to US$50,000, and provided some of the money power that gave breath to the Asian thrust in world cricket.

When Abdul Rahman Bukhatir splashed money on players, commentators, spectators (he had movie stars flown down from India) and administrators two and a half decades ago, even he could not have envisaged just how far his dream would take him. Sharjah, one of the seven emirates of the UAE, has seen some of the finest one-day matches, and held Test matches too. It took two decades, in which the administrative skills of Qasim Noorani meshed with the cricketing contacts of Asif Iqbal, to realise Bukhatir's dream.

Since Sharjah showed the way, other centres like Singapore, Toronto and Morocco hosted internationals, but none have had the intensity of the cricketing oasis in the middle of the desert, where nothing matched the frisson of an India-Pakistan match.

Acceptance was a long time coming, especially since the local team, UAE, were good enough to play only two matches after they won the ICC Trophy in 1994.

Rumour clouds about match-fixing began to gather over Sharjah in the late 1990s. Although nothing was proved, international teams began to distance themselves from the venue - though it hosted neutral Tests in the early 2000s. The biggest blow came when in 2001, the Indian government banned the national team from playing there. Sharjah never really recovered from that setback.

This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print

    Worst keepers, and honours at Lord's

Ask Steven: Also, most keeping dismissals on debut, seven-for at HQ, and youngest ODI centurions

    From swinging London to Maco country

Diary: Our correspondent walks and buses the streets of the English capital, and then heads for the coast

    When Pidge strayed

My Favourite Cricket Story: Brett Lee remembers how Australia nearly lost the Old Trafford Test in the 2005 Ashes

    How we misunderstand risk in sport

Ed Smith: Success, failure, innovation - they are all about our willingness to take risks and how we judge them

'Fast-bowling injuries account for two-thirds of games missed'

The Cricket Couch: Australian physio Alex Kountouris talks about player health management

News | Features Last 7 days

Vijay rediscovers the old Monk

The leave outside off stump has been critical to M Vijay's success since his India comeback last year. Contrary to popular opinion, such patience and self-denial comes naturally to him

Bhuvneshwar on course for super series

Only 15 times in Test history has a player achieved the double of 300 runs and 20 wickets in a Test series. Going on current form, Bhuvneshwar could well be the 16th

Ugly runs but still they swoon

Alastair Cook did not bat like a leading man but the crowd applauded him for simply not failing

India come full circle

India's wretched run away from home began at Lord's in 2011. A young team full of self-belief may have brought it to an end with their victory at the same venue three years later

Ishant's fourth-innings heroics in rare company

In India's win at Lord's, Ishant Sharma took the best bowling figures by an Indian in the fourth innings of a Test outside Asia. Here are five other best bowling efforts by Indians in the fourth innings of Tests outside Asia

News | Features Last 7 days
Sponsored Links

Why not you? Read and learn how!