Sharjah Cricket starts the second innings of CBFS

Liaqat Ali/Sharjah
Filed on April 5, 2021
(Left to right) Zaid Abbas, Emirates Cricket Board Member; Nasser Akram, Member Sharjah Cricket; Eisa Hilal Al Hazami, Chairman Sharjah Sports Council; Khalaf Bukhatir, CEO Sharjah Stadium and Waleed Bukhatir, Vice Chairman Sharjah Cricket during the Press conference at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday. — Supplied photo

The project will give local players a chance to compete at the highest level

The legendary Cricketers Benefit Fund Series (CBFS) that put Sharjah on the global map, is making a fresh start with the aim of developing young talent in the region.

Launched in the early 1980s, the CBFS offered financial support to retired players from India and Pakistan during the high-profile tournaments at the iconic venue.

The wonderful initiative made Abdulrehman Bukhatir, the man who brought cricket to the desert, one of the most revered personalities back in the day.

And now Sharjah Cricket has reactivated the CBFS to give local players a chance to compete at a high level and gain experience.

With two-day Test matches being played by the elite division and the under-19s, not to mention the regular playing opportunities for under-13s, under-15s and under-17s, the CBFS's aim is to give local players exposure at international level.

But the biggest goal of CBFS 2 is to lay a solid foundation -- one on which the UAE could attain Test status in the future.

The league has come up with a unique idea to prepare nascent cricketers for longer version of the game. Though it is an era of T20 and T10, Test cricket remains the most prestigious format.

The introduction of two-day Test will provide youngsters with a chance to learn and play the long format.

According to the plans, under-13s will play T20, T25 and T30 games; the under-15s will play T20, T30 and T40 format; the under-17s will go for the T20, T30 and 50 overs games and the under-19s will fight for honours over T20, 50 overs and two-day Test matches.

The categories also include an elite division where top cricket clubs in the UAE will play T20 games, ODIs and two-day Test matches.

“It is heartening to see that Bukhatir family continues to create a rich and diverse legacy. Thanks to their dedication and commitment, Sharjah is firmly on the global sporting map and Sharjah Sports Council is proud to be supporting this next phase of the CBFS," Eisa Hilal Al Hazami, Chairman of Sharjah Sports Council, said.

“This is a fine effort by Bukhatir family to nurture young talent through cricket.

“Sharjah Sports Council always encourages healthy activities and this new league will go a long way in producing quality players that can represent the UAE at the highest level."

Waleed Bukhatir, Vice Chairman of Sharjah Cricket, and Khalaf Bukhatir, CEO, Sharjah Stadium, are continuing the legacy of Abdulrehman Bukhatir.

“We are proud to carry on the good work of our father. He is keen to extend cricket legacy and we are happy to obey his orders. This is a huge project and with the help of God, it will be a roaring success,” Waleed said.

Waleed also plans to invite the legends from the subcontinent to help the kids learn the tricks of the game.

“We will ask the big names to come and train our youngsters. The legends are always welcome in Sharjah, it is because of them we reached this stage. The cricket rivalry between India and Pakistan has given the world some of most memorable moments,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nasser Akram, Member of Sharjah Cricket, said: “The video played during the press conference was very nostalgic and it shows how cricket evolved in Sharjah. I have been involved with Sharjah cricket since late 80s and it has been a privilege to work with a towering personality like Abdulrehman Bukhatir.

“The CBFS second innings is the continuation of the work started by the Father of the UAE cricket and I hope it will be huge success.”

And Mazhar Khan, General Manager of Sharjah Cricket, became nostalgic at the event.

“The first match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium was played between Minadad XI and Gavaskar XI on a cement wicket in April 1981 and now the stadium holds the Guinness Book of World Records for hosting the most number of the ODIs," Khan said.

"It has been a long and wonderful journey and this new initiative will be another feather in Sharjah’s cap.”

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