x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mazhar Khan's love affair with ECB continues in UAE

Once a dejected cricketer, Mazhar tells Amith Passela he is enjoying life as an administrator at Emirates Cricket Board.

The services of Mazhar Khan were also recognised by the ICC last year.
The services of Mazhar Khan were also recognised by the ICC last year.

Mazhar Khan was a dejected young man when he left Hyderabad after being overlooked for the state junior team. He felt he was one of the best wicketkeepers around at the time, although he was not seen as such by the selectors.

"I lost all my interest in cricket," Mazhar said. "I looked for employment elsewhere and arrived in Sharjah in 1975."

Once on these shores, his interested in cricket revived and he became involved with the Emirates Cricket Board, and he has been involved as a player and administrator for more than 37 years.

Cricket became more of a full-time job for him from 1996 after he began to work in an honorary capacity, which he still does for the Sharjah Cricket Council and the Dubai Sports City Stadium.

"It has been challenging," he said. "The family has been very supportive and thanks to some wonderful people around me."

Last year, Mazhar was conferred a Lifetime Service Award for his "exceptional performance and services" by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

He says domestic cricket administration has become more professional, and the quality of cricket played definitely has improved. Though "not in terms of the players because we use to have a lot of first-class cricketers from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the 1990s".

He added: "In terms of infrastructure, the growth has been remarkable with international stadiums in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, besides Sharjah."

The UAE ranks 14th in the world and fourth among the Associate members after defeating Afghanistan and Scotland, both 2-0, in the ICC World Cricket League.

Mazhar said the UAE can still finish in the top two in the World Cricket League with good results from the remaining games against Ireland in March followed by Canada and Namibia.

"The top two teams in the WCL will receive automatic qualification for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and my wish is that they qualify for both, the World Cup and the 2014 World Twenty20 Cup in Bangladesh.

He said the ICC is keen to host the T20 World Cup qualifiers in the UAE.

Six teams from the 16 Associate and Affiliate member countries will qualify for Bangladesh.

Mazhar played for Air India, one of the leading domestic teams, until the mid-1990s. He later captained the team on tours to England, Australia and Kenya. On a trip to India, he had the opportunity to meet Indira Gandhi, the former prime minister of India.

"I played competitive cricket until 1995 and it was full-time administrative work from thereafter," he said.

He missed out on a place in the UAE team that played in the 1993 World Cup qualifiers but says he felt he would have been a better choice.

He shrugs off the disappointments and says he does not regret leaving India or missing out on the UAE squad in 1993. "I have enjoyed and am still enjoying every moment of my involvement in cricket in the UAE," he said.

apassela@thenational.ae

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