x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sharjah attendance proves Afghanistan cricket team remains popular

Scotland are beaten by seven wickets as the hosts record a clean sweep in the Grand Midwest Twenty20 Cup.

Scotland's Calum MacLeod plays a shot against Afghanistan at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Scotland's Calum MacLeod plays a shot against Afghanistan at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
SHARJAH //Given the fact they resume their quest for a place in cricket's top competition tomorrow, winning the Grand Midwest Twenty20 Cup after cleansweeping Scotland last night probably pales in relevance for Afghanistan.
But it is better than nothing. After all, cricket at this level of the game is grateful for whatever morsels it can get.
At the strata just above this one, sponsors queue up to endorse just about any aspect of a match, on the off-chance that someone like MS Dhoni might hit the most sixes, or take the best catch, then be obliged to sit on the sponsored motorbike for a photo.
Pickings remain rather more modest in this arena for the moment. Grand Midwest, the hotel chain, were granted naming rights to this two match series of T20 internationals, in exchange for offsetting the costs of hosting the teams during their stay in Sharjah.
The international game beyond the Test arena remains more of a revenue taker than a revenue creator at this stage, but there are signs things could be changing.
There was a charge at the gate for tickets - starting at Dh20 - for these matches, which is unusual.
The fact there were at least a few Afghans in the ground - maybe around 1,000 at its peak - suggests it is just about possible to monetise the game at this level. It is a long way from covering costs, but still, it is a start.
Hamid Hassan continued to impress on his return to the side in Afghanistan's seven-wicket win last night.
The bandana-wearing fast bowler spent most of last year recuperating an injury sustained hurdling a picket-fence while playing against England at Dubai's Global Cricket Academy
His four wickets here meant Afghanistan's task of chasing 140 was an easy one.
pradley@thenational.ae