Over the twentieth century, increasing trade links with the Indian sub-continent helped in the growth of cricket, as Arab visitors received exposure during their sojourns there to further their studies or to seek business interests. As the greening of the desert took place, the parade ground rendered space to proper playing fields.
With the establishment of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, cricket, which in those days was still played on rolled dirt tracks with rudimentary facilities, received the first boost as business organizations began to sponsor the players and teams earnestly. As thousands of expatriates from the cricket-mad subcontinent descended in droves to the oil-drenched land of fortune, they brought the game with them.
Afterward, the arrival of such pioneers as Abdulrahman Bukhatir, the doyen of cricket in the desert, proved to be the turning point. Besides, the advent of the iconic Cricketers Benefit Fund Series on the scene worked wonders, as it proved to be a shot in the arm, with the game getting its first international exposure. The first international match between an Indian and Pakistan representative team, between Gavaskar XI and Miandad XI, was held in 1981, and after that, CBFS never looked back.
The stadium itself has a magical quality and has been the venue for some incredibly nail-biting finishes in front of a bi-partisan crowd. It has been regularly upgraded and was the first in the region to activate an electronic scoreboard and position floodlights for day-night cricket in 2002, with an enhanced capacity of 24,000 spectators recently adding 2000 more for the PSL 2019. A media lounge was added, and over the years the stadium has earned respect and affection from fans, players and media alike.
Today the game is thoroughly entrenched, with the number of teams and players increasing all the time. The facilities have also improved consequently. There are three turf wickets with the grassy outfield, including the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, with its world-class facilities.
Sharjah Cricket Academy
Established in 1989 under the umbrella of the Sharjah Cricket Council, the Sharjah Cricket Academy is one of the oldest cricket Academies in the UAE.
The academy, significantly, takes pride in being nested in the historically well-known Sharjah Cricket Stadium, has over the years been playing a pivotal role in offering world-class training to budding cricketers, and has trained hundreds of students since its inception.
Each cricket program is precisely designed in the Academy by highly qualified coaches to ensure the students go through the training steps in a professional way and understand the nuances of the game. Led by Farhan Siddique, the Academy has the top facilities that ensure budding cricketers get the best possible training. Currently, we have Mr. Kashif Daud, who is a level 2 coach certified from ECB, UK, and Haroon Ahmad, level 2 certified Coach from Pakistan.
Sharjah Cricket Academy has various levels of teams, including youth, women, and senior teams. The Academy has more than 150 players in the age group of 7 – 16, in addition to 20 girls, noting that most of them have represented the women’s national team at different levels.
Sharjah Cricket Academy organizes many practice matches for the kids on Saturdays on top-quality cricket grounds in Sharjah and Al Dhaid. It also provides players with top facilities, including both indoor and outdoor playing opportunities. The club has six pieces of turf and three cement wickets. The club conducts training three days per week (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).
At the academy, there is a significant focus on fitness, with all coaches ensuring that fitness holds the key before and during training sessions. Fielding is also given utmost importance to ensure it improves the reflexes and agility of the boys. The kids get to participate in all age category tournaments that are organized by the councils in the UAE. Besides, they travel overseas every year to many countries, including Sri Lanka and the UK.