Shaiman Anwar Butt
March 15, 1979, Sialkot, Punjab
Right hand bat
Top order batter
A classy right-hander with silky smooth footwork and effortless timing, Shaiman Anwar could have gone down as one of the all-time batting greats not just in his adopted UAE but in all of Associate cricket. Yet, his career will forever be tarnished by a guilty verdict and eight-year ban handed out by the ICC in March 2021 that effectively ended his career at the age of 42.
After a brief first-class career for his hometown Sialkot in Pakistan, where he played four matches in the 2002-03 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Anwar migrated to the UAE in 2007 after taking up an offer to play corporate cricket. Upon completing a four-year residency requirement under the ICC eligibility rules at the time, he was handed a national team cap in December 2010 against Namibia. In just his third match, he made an emphatic statement with 123 off 118 balls against Papua New Guinea thereby making himself a permanent fixture in UAE's lineup throughout the 2010s, solidifying an imposing middle-order alongside captain Khurram Khan.
In a crowded batting field during the 2011-2013 WCL Championship - the tournament used as a qualifying pathway to the 2015 World Cup - Anwar finished No. 1 on the run charts, once again emphasising his elite class in the Associate world. His 625 runs in 14 matches at an average of 52.08 put him well clear of many illustrious names on the Associate scene of the time including Kyle Coetzer, William Porterfield, Ed Joyce and Mohammad Nabi.
Anwar's career pinnacle arguably came at the 2015 World Cup, where he showed he was a superb batsman even at the highest level, by totalling 311 runs at an average of 51.83. In his first four innings at the event, he passed 50 three times including half-centuries against Zimbabwe and Pakistan plus a century in a thrilling contest against Ireland, though each effort was ultimately in vain as UAE went home winless.
The World Cup century against Ireland was his fifth and final of his UAE List A career, unable to break a deadlock with Khurram for the most by a UAE batsman. But over the final four years of his career, he remained a steady contributor and was one of the first eight players given a UAE central contract in 2016, allowing him to commit full-time to cricket.
In his final ODI series in the UAE uniform against Zimbabwe in April 2019, he passed Khurram to become the all-time leader in List A runs for UAE. He also held the same distinction for UAE in T20 cricket and scored UAE's maiden T20I century against Papua New Guinea in a win at Abu Dhabi in April 2017. His final innings in any form came in August 2019 at the Global T20 Canada franchise event where he scored 90 off 45 balls in a Man-of-the-Match effort to lead Winnipeg Hawks to a Super Over victory against defending champion Vancouver Knights in the final, showing that even at age 40 he still had plenty left in the tank.
Unfortunately, most of those achievements were rendered footnotes in the tale of Anwar when he was provisionally suspended by the ICC in October 2019 just days before he was due to take part in the T20 World Cup Qualifier. Over the course of the next 18 months, Anwar was found guilty and slapped with an eight-year ban for violating two sections of the ICC's anti-corruption code, one for failing to disclose details of a corrupt approach and the other for "for being party to an agreement to contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspects of a match or matches" at the T20 World Cup Qualifier. According to witness testimony in the ICC tribunal, both he and Mohammad Naveed had been offered 1.6 million UAE dirhams ($435,000) to underperform in three matches at the qualifier. The price Anwar paid to his reputation was much more dear.
Peter Della Penna
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