x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Meet Arshad Ali – UAE cricket's Mr Motivator

The veteran all-rounder stuttered against Ireland, but is still held in highest regard by his teammates, writes Amith Passela.

Arshad Ali has turned himself into a very useful all-rounder for the UAE. Christopher Pike / The National
Arshad Ali has turned himself into a very useful all-rounder for the UAE. Christopher Pike / The National

Arshad Ali made his debut for the UAE at the ICC World Cup qualifiers in Canada in 2001. Two years later he made a first-class debut and scored 143 against Nepal in the ICC Intercontinental Cup at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The Pakistan-born cricketer who turns 37 next month is showing no signs of waning.

Arshad missed out on a century against Ireland in the Intercontinental Cup but his 95 and the 187-run second wicket partnership with Khurram Khan, the captain, set the platform for his team to post a first-innings score of 360 and force a draw in the four-day game in Sharjah last week.

"We both got in to the UAE team at the same time and have been good friends and shared some great moments on the cricket pitch," Khurram said of his longtime teammate.

Arshad arrived from Sialkot in 1996 and had to go through the four-year residency-rule to become eligible to play for the UAE.

"I didn't give much thought of representing the UAE when I first arrived in the country. But having achieved that distinction I feel honoured," he said yesterday.

"To think that I have lasted for so long playing for the UAE is really a milestone for me. I still enjoy the game as I did when I first arrived in the country.

"The hunger in me to perform has not diminished one bit. I want to play as long as I can and as long as I am needed to serve UAE cricket."

"It has been rewarding too. I have got a good job through cricket at the Emirates Airline. They also appreciate what I do on the cricket pitch for both, my employer's team as well as the national team."

Arshad started out as a batsman but has turned in to a useful bowler as well. He has also adapted to all formats: the Twenty20, 50-over-a-side, and the four-day game.

"It means a lot of hard work," he said. "I work on my batting, bowling as well as my fitness. I had to adapt to the shorter format which requires a player to perform in all areas."

Arshad took a first-class career best six for 45 and returned with nine wickets in the match against Afghanistan in the Intercontinental Cup in Sharjah last year.

However, he failed with the bat (4) and went wicket-less from his 10 overs in the five-wicket defeat to Ireland in the first of the two one-day games in the World Cricket League Championship in Sharjah yesterday.

Arshad has scored 3,490 first class runs at an average of 41.35 and has 43 wickets in the format.

"He is a real fighter on the cricket pitch," Khurram said.

"We have come together on countless occasions to win matches for the UAE. It was Arshad who would be the motivation factor to keep going.

"I have always and still enjoy batting with him. He is a fantastic player and an excellent player. We have had a lot of success together and looking forward to more with him."

apassela@thenational.ae

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