The Pakistan- England series has not even started properly, yet there are already enough stories to keep the media running around in circles.
A minor security incident involving the England team bus on Sunday night, perhaps showcases the need for a ‘cultural attache’ with visiting teams. The bus either bumped into or was hit by a car, the driver of whom, turned out to be a member of local security. He allegedly stopped the bus outside Sharjah’s Safeer Mall and showed his ID card to prove his professional credentials. England’s security officer, seeing a non-licensed car, did not permit anyone to get off the bus. Upon complaining of the incident at a Dubai Police Station the following day, he was informed the said gentleman had already filed a complaint against the bus driver at a Sharjah Police Station. After much discussion, it was decided that the team bus will now travel with official police security at all times.
With Dubai cricket fans absolutely ecstatic about the impending Pakistan-England series, Sachin Tendulkar and WasimAkram’s presence in Dubai this weekend, England Lions matches from November, a possible Afghanistan-Zimbabwe series in December, the Pakistan Super League , the Masters Champion League as well as English County Cricket starting its domestic season here (phew)..no one is overtly surprised to hear that a third, independent league is attempting to wrestle the UAE’s cricket stadiums for the much fought-over February 2016 window.
News coming in indicates that a British-Pakistani businessman who sometimes dapples in real estate, is hoping to form a league of his own albeit one that involves both Indian and Pakistani players. When he was informed that the stadiums are already booked for that time period, he duly informed those in charge that he has great contacts amongst UAE locals. Since the Emirates Cricket Board is already committed elsewhere, it is unlikely he will be entertained.
With the exception of Misbah who was already here, the Pakistan Test squad finally arrived on UAE shores Wednesday morning. Along with Younis Khan who had flown in from Karachi, the travel-weary team left Dubai for Abu Dhabi, where they will have their first practice session Thursday morning. Pakistan plays the UAE in a 2 day practice match from the 9th of October.
With the UAE most certainly becoming the centre of cricket for the next six months, the PCB has finally decided to revamp its image. Sources indicate that they are organizing a match between Pakistan players and residents of a labour camp. This is similar to initiatives undertaken by both Cricket Australia and Shoaib Akhtar last year. Although the PCB has been slow in brand marketing its image in the UAE, the board and squad must be applauded for the positive impact they have had on regional cricket.