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Abu Dhabi cricket has come a long, long way

Abu Dhabi cricket has come a long, long way

The first cricket to be played in Abu Dhabi was in 1976 when a half-cement wicket was built at Dewan Al Amiri.

By James Jose (senior Reporter)

Published: Tue 16 Jun 2015, 11:22 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:11 PM

Abu Dhabi — From the back yards and open spaces in Abu Dhabi back in the 70s to the now world class Zayed Cricket Stadium, cricket and the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council (ADCC) have come a long, long way. The past and the present members of the Council went down memory lane and reminisced about the old days, during the ADCC’s End of Season dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

And the current president of the Council, Wajahat Husain couldn’t have summed it any better when he said that between the UK and the Indian sub-continent, Abu Dhabi is the only centre which can boast of three grounds which has ODI status. “From what it was then to what it has become now, we can proudly say that between the UK and the sub-continent, Abu Dhabi is the only centre in the world which boasts of three turf grounds which has ODI status,” said Wajahat.

“It is a testament to the work done by each and every one at the Council, the staff, everyone,” he added. Indeed, it has been. There have been many stalwarts, past and present, who continue to work and support the Council to ensure cricket is run smoothly.

There are the known people who have stuck by it for decades and there are also the unsung heroes who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to create a world class facility as well serve the game of cricket.

Back then, cricket used to played in open spaces in the UAE capital or wherever they could find a place. The first president of the Council was Omar Yusuf who was elected in 1989. The veteran had won 28 of the 30 votes at that time. Mansoor Jawaid took over in 1993 after which Dr. BR Shetty became the President in early 2000. Dilawar Mani was the President from 2006 after which Wajahat Husain took over.

The first cricket to be played in Abu Dhabi was in 1976 when a half-cement wicket was built at Dewan Al Amiri. They then shifted to Electra Street, behind UNB and Etisalat. The first tournament, the Al Shaab Trophy was held there in 1978.

It was during that time that Shahnawaz Hakim Yousuf, now the Cricket Operations Manager at ADCC, formed his Young Cricket Club, after arriving from Pakistan in 1974. He has been a long-serving member and has dedicated himself to cricket. He is fondly nicknamed “Mr.Cricket” in close circles. Abu Dhabi’s playground later became the Mina ground before they shifted to the embassies area. Cricket went further and the now industrial area of Musaffah became their playground.

The Zayed Cricket Stadium was built in 2002, bang in the middle of the Arabian desert, and the first tournament to be held was the Under-15 Asia Cup. India and Pakistan contested the final and the latter won.

The stadium was officially inaugurated in 2006 when the Wisden-DLF Cup was played between India and Pakistan. Rahul Dravid was the captain of India, while Inzamam-ul-Haq was captain of Pakistan. The two-match series ended 1-1. Among the attendees included Pakistan’s then President Pervez Musharraf and then Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sharad Pawar.

The Zayed Cricket Stadium has gone to become a major destination for the sport with it being a ‘home’ venue for Pakistan. It has also staged the IPL and County fixtures as well.  The Council’s two other grounds were cement before its rebirth as the Nursery Ovals with a pavilion. The Nursery Ovals were built three years ago and Abu Dhabi now boasts of three venues, which not many cricket centres have. The ICC World T20 Qualifiers were held at the Ovals apart from warm-up matches of international teams as well as county fixtures. The IPL teams had also used the facility for training.  It has been a long journey for Abu Dhabi Cricket.


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