x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sharjah's cricket bullring to shine

Sharjah is probably the most historic sporting landmark in the country, and, during the 1980s one-day international cricket boom, was just about the most atmospheric, too.

Given the high-class cricket stadiums in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it seems daft to feel sentimental over little old Sharjah. It was announced last week that international cricket will return to the UAE's oldest venue, when Pakistan play the last Test of their series against Sri Lanka there.

Being a Test match, the least popular format of the game for UAE audiences, the atmosphere is unlikely to be quite as rocking as it was in its pomp.

However, just having it back on the roster of venues is reassuring for those who like their cricket grounds to have a touch of heritage about them.

Sharjah is probably the most historic sporting landmark in the country, and, during the 1980s one-day international cricket boom, was just about the most atmospheric, too.

Like Edgbaston, where England have thrived with the backing of fervent home support against India this week, Sharjah was described as having the atmosphere of a bullring when packed.

The ground has still staged more one-day internationals that anywhere else, but none involving top nations since 2003, by which time match-fixing had started to deter sides from playing series at neutral venues.

It has lapsed into a state of disrepair in comparison to most top grounds, but cricket has still been played there in the intervening time, even low-profile international matches.

The ground will certainly need a spruce up if it is to return to the heady days and nights of the 1980s and 1990s, but at least the teams have signalled their willingness to give it a chance.

pradley@thenational.ae


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