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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

UAE teenager aims to follow famous footsteps to professional cricket in UK

Sid Jhurani left Dubai to study in the United Kingdom and pursue his ambition of playing pro cricket.

Sid Jhurani will be following in the footsteps of some of England's best cricketers. Pawan Singh / The National
Sid Jhurani will be following in the footsteps of some of England's best cricketers. Pawan Singh / The National

A teenager from Dubai is targeting a professional cricket career in the UK, after graduating from the school that produced international players such as Simon Jones, Ben Hollioake and Craig Kieswetter.

After representing the UAE at Under 16 level, Sid Jhurani left two years ago to study for his A-levels at Millfield School in the west of England.

The path from there to professional sport is well trodden. As well as a variety of international cricketers and Olympians, two of the British & Irish Lions tour party to New Zealand, Mako Vunipola and Jonathan Joseph, are former pupils.

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Jhurani hopes to add his name to the school’s list of notable alumni in the future, possibly in the grey of the UAE senior team.

“I definitely want to play international cricket, and if that means coming back here, the set up in the UAE is absolutely brilliant,” Jhurani, 18, said.

“From when I left two years ago, it has come on strides. There has been inspiration recently too with Indian-born Chirag Suri going to the IPL [Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament]. That is a great achievement and I feel honoured to have played cricket with him.

“Things are opening up for Associate cricket. I feel like if you set your goals high, you can reach as high as possible.”

Assuming his A-level results are sufficient when they come out on August 17, he hopes to study economics at university in the UK while attempting to catch the eye of a county cricket team.

If he does not get his grades, he plans to “take a year off, and play cricket all over the world”.

Sid Jhurani was raised in Dubai but his family is originally from India. Pawan Singh / The National
Sid Jhurani was raised in Dubai but his family is originally from India. Pawan Singh / The National

His eagerness to travel to test himself is commendable, especially given he was stricken by homesickness when he first made the move from Dubai two years ago.

“I thought I would be fine, but cricket didn’t start until October,” he said. “For the first week there was absolutely nothing and I was severely homesick. I was just thinking, get through this one term, then I will probably head back home.

“As soon as cricket started, all those thoughts went out, and I absolutely loved it there. I have no regrets for making that decision.”

Born in Dubai to an Indian family from Mumbai, he has been hooked on cricket since watching India play Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup on TV as a five year old.

“I was running around the house being a nuisance,” said Jhurani, a left-handed batsman who tries to imitate the style of his hero Yuvraj Singh.

“My granddad told me to sit down and watch the game with him, and he explained it to me. I remember watching Sachin Tendulkar get to 98, then crying when he got out.”

Jhurani first felt he had a talent for the game worth pursuing when he played for the senior team at Dubai College when he was aged just 14. That prompted the decision to assess options in the UK.

Clint Berkenshaw, the coach in charge of cricket at Dubai College, believes his young charge is flourishing because of his decision to go abroad to challenge himself.

“Sid is the most passionate cricketer I’ve met in all my years of coaching,” Berkenshaw said. “He loves the game, eats, drinks and breathes it. As a cricketer and a person, he is a really hard worker at whatever he puts his mind to.

“It is a matter of getting him to believe in himself, but he has been doing well overseas. Not many cricketers in the UAE have the drive that he has. I think he has the potential to make it.”

UAE cricketers abroad

Sid Jhurani is not the first cricketer from the UAE to go to the UK to try his luck.

Rameez Shahzad Played alongside Ben Stokes and Liam Plunkett in Durham while he was studying there. He also played club cricket as an overseas professional, but his time in the UK stunted his UAE career. The batsman went a decade without playing for the national team.

Yodhin Punja The seam bowler was named in the UAE’s extended World Cup squad in 2015 despite being just 15 at the time. He made his senior UAE debut aged 16, and subsequently took up a scholarship at Claremont High School in the south of England.

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