By Henry Blofeld
The Australasia Cup, which begins in Sharjah today, gives the Un-
ited Arab Emirates, who won the recent ICC Trophy in Kenya, their
first chance to play one-day cricket in open competition at the
highest level of the game.
The other five competing countries are India, Pakistan, Aus-
tralia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The UAE have been drawn in the
same qualifying group as India and Pakistan.
The UAE have been criticised because their side are composed al-
most entirely of expatriates from the subcontinent. Their side to
play India in today's opening match comprise one Sri Lankan, two
Indians, seven Pakistanis and one Arab, Sultan Zarwani, their
captain. Born in Dubai, he has an Arab father and a Pakistani
ICC regulations stipulate that anyone who plays for the UAE must,
in each of the last four years, have spent at least 240 days
within the Emirates. Immigrants from the subcontinent have made
their lives in the Emirates just as a great many people of West
Indian extraction have made their lives in Great Britain and a
few now play for England.
International cricket was introduced to Sharjah 13 years ago be-
cause of the wealth and enthusiasm of Abdulrehman Bukhatir, an
Arab who learned to love the game during his years at Karachi
University. It is all, therefore, Arab-inspired.
The UAE won the ICC Trophy in style and there is a flamboyance
about their cricket matched by their captain's new yellow Lam-
borghini. So far, the UAE have preferred to chase rather than bat
first. From a brief glimpse in the nets it looks from their bowl-
ing as if they will be chasing a veritable mountain of runs if
they pursue that policy against India and Pakistan.
They will find scoring runs against Test bowlers and trying to
contain Test batsmen a rather different proposition. No one ex-
pects immediate surprises but this could be the start of a jour-
ney which eventually ends in elevation to Test status.
Thanks :: The Independent
UMass, Apr 14, 1994