Exclusive: Dubai's cricket museum bowls over England legend

David Gower compares Shyam Bhatia’s cricket museum to legendary museum at the Lord’s cricket ground in London


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Tue 7 Feb 2023, 7:52 AM

From myriad signed memorabilia to stacks of books, magazines and the walls adorned by old paper clippings, Shyam Bhatia’s Cricket Museum is a priceless gift for the game’s romantics.

Meticulously built and beautifully maintained, this museum nestles elegantly in the backyard of Bhatia’s Jumeirah residence in Dubai.

The octogenarian Indian businessman’s undying love for the game has over the years earned admiration from iconic cricketers like Viv Richards, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Steve Waugh, Kumar Sangakkara and Shane Warne.

Recently, Bhatia’s museum welcomed a new guest, David Gower, who turned some of the most famous cricket grounds into his canvas with luminous left-handed strokeplay in his heyday.

On a commentary assignment at the ongoing DP World ILT20 in the UAE, Gower couldn’t resist a visit to Dubai’s sacred cricket museum.

“Feast for the eyes,” Gower mused as he gazed intently at Bhatia’s collection.

The former England captain then compared Bhatia’s private cricket museum to the famous Lord’s cricket museum in London.

“Of all the places I have seen, in terms of a private collection, this is unique. Partly because it’s so beautifully put together. You see the passion the moment you walk in,” he said.

“I know places like the Lord’s museum, which is a club as opposed to one man’s passion. There are certain things obviously Lord’s can get hold of that Shyam, maybe, haven’t.

“But it’s been just so beautifully presented, it strikes the eye straight away.

“And you would need weeks to get into all the details, the collection of books alone will take years to read. Just to get around this room will take a long time to absorb all the details. It shows a lot of time and effort and thought that have gone into the way it looks.”

Bhatia’s collection also brought back childhood memories for Gower.

“The Art of Cricket, the book written by Sir Don Bradman, was the first book gifted to me by my father. I saw the book here today in his museum. It’s amazing,” Gower smiled.

The paper clippings that Bhatia has put on the walls reminded the 65-year-old Gower of his mother.

“When I first played professional cricket for Leicestershire (in English county cricket), my mother would keep the paper clippings, and I still have those, from local newspapers, national newspapers,” he recalled.

Gower, who scored 8,231 in 117 Test matches, felt cricket would always be indebted to aficionados like Bhatia.

“Shyam has this beautiful passion for this game and I know that he is also supporting the game in places that most cricket people won’t go. He has helped the cricket association in Ukraine, which has great relevance now. He is also helping cricket in Japan,” he said.

“Those places, they need someone with that sort of passion to say, ‘here’s some help, here’s some more assistance you need to grow and get better’.

“So yes, he has got a beautiful obsession and his museum is a monument of the game.”


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