x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Return of international cricket to Sharjah good for game

All the proposed work and expenditure to revive the stadium could be worth it if the large population of Pakistani expatriates can fill the stadium.

For someone who has grown up on a staple diet of Sharjah's annual cricket carnivals, the efforts to bring international cricket back to the stadium is welcome news. It is a shame to see the ground in its present state of neglect.

The stands are dilapidated and the dressing rooms that hosted some of the greatest of the game, from Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall and Brian Lara to Sunil Gavaskar, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Sachin Tendulkar, seem derelict.

There is plenty of work to be done before Sharjah Cricket Stadium can host a Test-playing nation, as Dilawar Mani, the chief executive of Emirates Cricket Board, stated.

Afghanistan have used the venue as their home ground and staged two one-day internationals against Canada last year.

Sharjah has also hosted Intercontinental Cup matches in recent times, but the standards for Tests are much higher. A lot of hard work lies ahead and there is not much time before Pakistan arrive for their series against Sri Lanka in mid-October.

All the work and expenditure, however, could be worth it if the large population of Pakistani expatriates in that part of Sharjah can fill the stadium.

Some would point to the ugly shadow of the match-fixing ogre, which has lingered over Sharjah for some time now, though Sir Paul Condon's inquiry into corruption in cricket failed to find anything to corroborate those suspicions.

But holding that against Sharjah would be like punishing Lord's for what Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer did on its hallowed turf.