Behind every cricketer is another cricketer. Shaiman Anwar, for instance, has styled his batting technique on that of the legendary Indian batsman Rahul Dravid.
In the UAE, though, Anwar has built a reputation in contrast to Dravid’s conservative style of batting. The Pakistan-born UAE cricketer is nicknamed “Sixes Shaiman” for his ability to consistently hit the ball over the ropes.
“I don’t try to bludgeon every bad delivery,” he said, “but when there is one to be hit, I do it with sheer timing. I can score quickly when required and play the long innings as well — and can bat at any number from one to six.
“I tried to emulate Dravid’s technique as much as possible when I started playing real cricket at the age of around 13. Later I developed my own game and have been successful, particularly in the UAE.”
Anwar’s 100 against Bangladesh Under 23 in last month’s Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams tournament was a classic example of his ability to play the anchor role, batting for almost 48 overs in the 50-over-a-side match.
He amassed 317 runs from four innings in that tournament as the UAE reached the semi-final in Singapore. Before that, he stroked 102 not out and 57 against Canada in the two World Cricket League Championship matches.
Anwar will be expected to carry the momentum forward when the UAE play Namibia in a home series, starting on September 27, followed by the World Twenty20 Cup qualifiers in November, which the UAE is hosting, and January’s ICC World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand.
“We have a busy schedule ahead and obviously we are looking forward to the UAE’s qualification in both, the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh and the 50-over-aside World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand,” he said. “I think we have an outstanding chance to qualify in both formats because we have a lot of experienced players and the team is in great nick at the moment.
“If we qualify for the World Cup, it will be the biggest achievement in my playing career.”
Anwar pointed to the recent influx of top-class cricketers to some of the UAE’s leading clubs as a reason for the country’s improvement on the international stage.
“The UAE’s domestic level cricket is quite high [standard] and they also have the international-class infrastructure. In recent times, several teams flew down cricketers who were playing first-class cricket in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“This has had a tremendous impact and the results are there to see. This is beside the Emirates Cricket Board’s training schedules under [national coach] Aaqib Javed. We train three days a week and the coach [a former Pakistan pace bowler] pitches in during the sessions. His bowling is still fast and menacing, and it certainly helps us to work on the quick deliveries.”
Anwar began his cricket like most children on the subcontinent — playing in the back gardens and streets in his hometown Sialkot, Punjab. His first visit to the UAE was when he was invited by Ibsons to play in the Ramadan Cup in 2005. He returned the following year to play for Tellicherry in the same competition.
“I scored a lot of runs in my second visit and received a lot of employment offers but I wanted to return to Pakistan to continue my cricket,” he said.
On his third visit in 2007, Anwar had made up his mind to take up the employment offer and joined Consolidated Shipping Services. He moved to the Wings Group last year and since has been a prolific scorer for them in the domestic competitions.
“Like the majority of the children in Pakistan, I enjoyed playing cricket without anybody’s encouragement or support,” he said.
“And like every kid, I also had ambitions to play for Pakistan. I couldn’t achieve those objectives but thankfully I have a decent job and the opportunity to play for the UAE.”