The home of cricket in the UAE: The Sharjah Cricket Stadium
The ultimate Home of Cricket for most people in the world, the Lord’s Cricket Ground will soon be hosting the grand finale of the 12th edition of ICC Cricket World Cup. However, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium will always be the home of cricket for UAE residents. Undoubtedly a historic venue, Sharjah Cricket Stadium has hosted the some of the most iconic matches of the gentleman’s game in the past four decades.The introduction of many top cricket superstars in the Sharjah Cricket Stadium had a strong impact on the modern day sporting culture in the UAE. It has also offered countless moments of cricketing brilliance which are cherished by cricket fans across the world.
It could even be argued that the popularity and growth of the sport in UAE stems from the historic battles between celebrated rival teams at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. While there are many places that are screening World Cup Matches in Dubai, the heart of cricket in the UAE is undoubtedly in the historic Sharjah International Cricket Stadium.
Interesting facts about the Sharjah Cricket Stadium
This blog looks into the rich history and legacy of this magnificent venue and provides insight into the greatest moments thousands have witnessed in this stadium.
This might come as a surprise for a casual follower of the game, but Sharjah Cricket Ground holds the record of hosting the most number of One Day International matches, i.e. 238. This is an achievement considering that the home team (UAE) featured only twice in those matches.
Sharjah International Cricket Stadium has hosted 261 international matches. This includes 9 test matches, 238 ODIs and 14 T20Is. Sharjah Stadium is third on the list of grounds that hosted the most international matches featuring the likes of Melbourne Cricket Ground and Sydney Cricket Ground. For a region which doesn’t have a strong cricketing culture, it is an outstanding achievement.
Sharjah Cricket Stadium History
This stadium was the brainchild of Mr Abdul Rahman Bukhatir. Located on Second Industrial Street Sharjah, Mr Bukhatir envisioned this project in the early 80s. In 1982, it became the first dedicated cricket stadium in the country. Looking at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium map, you will find that it is within the city, unlike the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi which is slightly secluded from the main city and is located in Khalifa City A.
Initially, it hosted a few benefit games, such as Gavaskar XI vs Miandad XI tribute matches. But soon the Sharjah Cricket ground built a reputation for hosting some high octane matches, particularly between Indian and Pakistan.
During the 80s and even early 90s, Sharjah became synonymous with titanic clashes between the arch cricketing rivals. With a growing expat population from the sub-continent, Sharjah Cricket Stadium became a link for them to their home country. It is where they could show their true love and passion for not just cricket but also their countries. Cricket in Sharjah developed a lot during this phase and continued into the late 90s.
Since the turn of the century, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium has faced some challenges due to off-field controversies. However, high-level cricket has returned to Sharjah recently, largely because of the Pakistan Cricket team, which plays its home matches in the UAE.
The Sharjah Cricket Stadium layout is not like stadiums we find in the sub-continent. Fans here are very close to the action, as the distance between the boundary and the stands is short. Many players talk about how the atmosphere in the stadium is electrifying and how it motivates them to do that extra bit to please the fans. This is why matches in Sharjah Cricket Stadium became special. More than matches they became Sharjah Cricket Stadium events to celebrate.
Head Curator Sharjah Cricket Stadium
The head curator (pitch preparation team head) at Cricket Stadium Sharjah is Mohammad Jameel. Born in Sialkot, Pakistan, Jameel’s journey as a cricket curator coincided with Sharjah’s rise as a cricketing venue. For almost four decades now, Jameel has worked at the stadium. Now, there is a team of 11 people, some part-time and some full-time employees, who prepare pitches for matches.
Since Sharjah is now hosting test matches as well, the challenge of pitch preparation has grown significantly. The sales of Sharjah Cricket Stadium tickets also show that the fans greatly enjoy their experience at this stadium.
Development at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium
The Sharjah Cricket Stadium Association is constantly on the lookout to improve facilities and the overall infrastructure at the stadium much to the delight of the cricket fans. Initially, the seating capacity at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium was only a few thousand. However, after the latest upgrade, the Sharjah cricket stadium capacity is 17,000.
Before the last edition of Pakistan Super League held in March 2019, the North Stand went through major rework. The VIP area, Sharjah Cricket Stadium’s pool and health club were also refurbished. After embracing the latest format of cricket T10, Sharjah Cricket Stadium is all set to take centre stage once again in the world of international cricket.
The future of Sharjah Cricket Stadium
ICC regularly holds matches of Associates teams in Sharjah. Moreover, a series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is scheduled in October 2019. While the venues have not been finalised yet, it is likely that Sharjah would host a couple of matches. This will be followed by the extravaganza of the T10 Cricket Tournament.
Cricket fans might also hope that glorious matches of the ground’s heyday between Pakistan and India return to this soon and the new generation of cricket lovers will also get to witnessed this famed rivalry. The atmosphere of India-Pakistan cricket matches in Sharjah is hard to recreate even in the home countries. Only those who have experienced can truly define it.
You can look for matches scheduled for upcoming series on the Sharjah Cricket Stadium website.
*Website is currently under maintenance but will be operational soon.
A museum showcasing the top moments of cricketing brilliance witnessed at this magnificent venue is being planned. In the past four decades, Sharjah has hosted most top teams in the world and many legends of the game have performed here. Thanks to this upcoming museum, cricket lovers will soon be able to relive those historical moments at the Sharjah Cricket ground.
Iconic performances at the Sharjah International Cricket Stadium
Desert Storm hundred by Sachin Tendulkar
Long before the Gayle storm, the world had witnessed the Desert Storm, which blew away the Australians. One of the most remarkable knocks of Sachin Tendulkar’s illustrious career was at the Sharjah International Cricket Stadium. his amazing innings of 143 was full of flare and swagger and lives in the hearts of the thousands present in the stadium that day.
The Javed Miandad Six
Not many last ball feats in the cricketing world are remembered and celebrated the same way as this thrilling six, hit in the final of Austral-Asia Cup in 1986. Javed Miandad, on a typically hot day in Sharjah became a timeless hero in the eyes of many after hitting Chetan Sharma for a sensational six off the last ball of the match. It became the foundation of a very successful Pakistan cricket team, which went on to win the World Cup in 1992. Whenever the history of cricket will be written, this six at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium will be mentioned as the moment which changed the course of Pakistan vs India matches at least for the next decade or two.
Over the years, the sports culture in the UAE has developed tremendously. The on-going Dubai Sports World is evidence of the fact that locals and expats enjoy getting fit by trying out their favourite sports. State-of-the-art facilities like golf courses in Sharjah, badminton courts in Dubai and more have been developed in recent years to promote interest in such athletic activities. To know more about the most-loved sports, leisure and entertainment destinations in the UAE, stay tuned to MyBayut.