Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

Retired UAE cricketer Adnan Mufti eager to pad up after UK's high court verdict

Batsman thrilled to be allowed to play as amateur, but he hopes to be able to do so professionally as well in future

Adnan Mufti is looking forward to repaying the faith shown in him by Clevedon, the UK-based club. Mark Thomas for The National
Adnan Mufti is looking forward to repaying the faith shown in him by Clevedon, the UK-based club. Mark Thomas for The National

Adnan Mufti says he cannot wait to return “to doing what I love most” after the High Court ruled he can play cricket in the UK as an amateur.

The 34-year-old batsman resigned his Emirates Cricket Board central contract last October, and retired from playing international cricket for UAE.

He relocated to the west of England, where his wife had landed a job in a hospital. His intention had been to play and coach in club cricket, as an overseas professional.

However, after making the move and attempting to register as a player with the England and Wales Cricket Board, the sport’s governing body in the UK, he was barred from playing cricket of any sort.

As per Home Office immigration rules, he was deemed to fall into a category in between being an amateur player and a professional.

As such, he was unable to play cricket, or even coach, meaning the experience garnered during his 11-year first-class career, and two-year international career with UAE, looked set to go to waste.

The Pakistan-born batsman appealed the decision, and received the verdict on Wednesday.

Former UAE cricketer Adnan Mufti has already built bridges at Clevedon, with some of their team members. Mark Thomas for The National
Former UAE cricketer Adnan Mufti has already built bridges at Clevedon, with some of their team members. Mark Thomas for The National

Although the court refused him permission to play as a professional, he has been granted the chance to play unpaid.

The judge’s ruling stated: “I note that the terms of paragraph 319D(v) of the immigration rules prevent you from being employed as a professional sportsman [including as a sports coach]; they do not appear to prevent you from playing amateur cricket.”

Although Mufti hopes the decision might be reviewed again in the future, so he can pursue his ambition to become a cricket coach in the long-term, he is delighted to have the chance to play again.

This week he secured a job working as a shift manager in a chicken peri peri restaurant in central Bristol.

Now he is looking forward to repaying the faith shown in him by Clevedon, the club he had found via Facebook immediately after settling in the UK last October.

“Finally, after a seven-month wait, I will be back playing cricket, and I am very happy with this,” Mufti said.

“Clevedon were bearing with me for seven months. They stayed in touch with me the whole time.

“Now, at least I can play for them as an amateur, and I can return to doing what I love most. I am really happy about that.”

Mufti hopes to be able to add his expertise to the title defence of the champion Premier League club side as soon as possible.

“I will play on one day, on Saturdays, so it will not affect my job,” Mufti said.

“If the club can get me registered tomorrow or the day after, hopefully I can play on Saturday, but if not, I will be playing next weekend.”

Updated: June 20, 2019 04:02 PM

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