How this Emirati's father helped bring Afghanistan cricket team to UAE during wartime

Afghan cricketer Rahmanullah Gurbaz is good friends with Khalaf Bukhatir, CEO of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium who is continuing the legacy of his legendary father


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Afghan cricketer Rahmanullah Gurbaz with Khalaf Bukhatir. — Instagram
Afghan cricketer Rahmanullah Gurbaz with Khalaf Bukhatir. — Instagram

Published: Thu 25 Jan 2024, 10:47 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Jan 2024, 8:59 AM

It’s quite ironic when Rahmanullah Gurbaz talks about hard work because everything looks so easy and simple when this young Afghan batsman hits the ball.

Gurbaz was hitting the big ones for fun at the ICC Academy nets on Wednesday evening, less than 24 hours before his team’s (Dubai Capitals’) ILT20 match against Abu Dhabi Knight Riders.

Blessed with sublime timing, Gurbaz reminds you of the peerless AB de Villiers every time he gets into position to play a shot.

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He also loves playing in the UAE for his national team as well as for the franchises in ILT20 and Abu Dhabi T10.

Gurbaz, one of the stars in the 2023 World Cup when the Afghan team beat Pakistan, Sri Lanka and England, even plays friendly club matches in Sharjah for one of his closest friends, Khalaf Bukhatir.

Bukhatir, CEO of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, is a passionate promoter of the game who is continuing the legacy of his legendary father, Abdul Rahman Bukhatir.

“I haven’t played club matches in the UAE, but sometimes I play for the Sharjah Club because Mr Khalaf Bukhatir is a really close friend of mine. He is like my brother. I just want to play for him,” Gurbaz told the Khaleej Times.

“He has helped me a lot and he has helped Afghanistan cricket a lot as well, that’s why I have a lot of respect for him.”

It was Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, Khalaf’s father, who offered the Sharjah Cricket Stadium to Afghanistan more than a decade ago when their cricket team was unable to play home matches in their conflict-torn country.

“I have heard a lot about his (Khalaf’s) father and how much he has contributed to the growth of cricket and Afghanistan cricket. I haven’t met him, but I have a lot of respect for him and his family,” Gurbaz said.

Work hard

While praising the UAE Under 19 team which recently reached the Asia Cup final beating Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Gurbaz says young cricketers in the UAE should continue to work hard on their game.

“It's a great achievement for UAE cricket. To reach the final at the Asia Cup is not easy. But they need to do more hard work,” he said.

“If you want to achieve something for your country, you have to work really hard.”

The 22-year-old, who has already hit six hundreds in international cricket, then revealed the secret to the meteoric rise of Afghan cricket.

“It’s all about hard work, I think the young kids are driven by the desire to play for the country,” he said.

“If you have a dream and if you work hard for it, you will achieve it. We are all working hard to do something for our country. That’s why so many youngsters have come up in our country.”


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