MISSING KEEPER LEAVES UAE STUMPED – ON AND OFF FIELD CRICKET

▶ Shab­ber ditches team to fly to Pak­istan while hosts lose to Jer­sey in T20 World Cup Qual­i­fier

The National - News - - SPORT - PAUL RADLEY

The cri­sis in UAE cricket deep­ened af­ter it was re­vealed Ghu­lam Shab­ber has left the coun­try with no ex­pla­na­tion, in the mid­dle of the T20 World Cup Qual­i­fier.

The wick­et­keeper failed to show up for a team meet­ing at 11am on Monday, ahead of the team’s fix­ture against Hong Kong.

He was also ab­sent when the na­tional team lost to Jer­sey on Tues­day, af­ter which it was re­vealed he has now been lo­cated in Pak­istan.

“At 11am yes­ter­day we had a team meet­ing, and Ghu­lam Shab­ber did not show up for it,” Peter Kelly, the UAE team man­ager, said.

“He did not show up for the bus in the af­ter­noon [when the team left for the Hong Kong match].

“ECB are do­ing due dili­gence. We are ob­vi­ously con­cerned for his well be­ing. We went out of our way to con­tact any next of kin that we could, as well as any num­bers we had for him.

“We also searched hos­pi­tals to make sure he was OK. We also got peo­ple to go and check if he was at home.

“Since that point, we have man­aged to find out that he has left the coun­try. What we do know is that he is safe, but we don’t know the rea­sons that he has gone.”

Over the past week, the side had al­ready had four lead­ing play­ers sus­pended as part of a cor­rup­tion probe. Mo­hammed Naveed, Qadeer Ahmed and Shaiman An­war were charged last Wed­nes­day with breach­ing cricket’s anti-cor­rup­tion code.

Af­ter the win over Hong Kong on Monday, it was an­nounced that Ashfaq Ahmed, the open­ing bats­man, had also been pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pended by the Emi­rates Cricket Board.

Amid the chaos, a dis­tracted na­tional team were soundly beaten by 35 runs by Jer­sey on Tues­day, in the qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion for the T20 World Cup in Aus­tralia next year.

“It is out of his na­ture, and we are un­sure why he left, and why he chose to not tell peo­ple,” Kelly said.

“He was not a part of the anti-cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“For the past 24 hours or so, we have been try­ing to find out if he is OK. We have man­aged to get to the point where we are. Where we go from here, we [don’t know].

“We do know he is OK, and he has left the coun­try. That is all we know so far. As to the rea­sons why, that is what we are try­ing to get to the bot­tom of.”

With Ashfaq sus­pended and Shab­ber now ab­sent with­out leave, the UAE have 13 play­ers left in their squad for the qual­i­fier – down from 15. They are un­clear as to if or when they can find re­place­ments.

De­spite the tur­moil, the UAE had found them­selves in a strong po­si­tion in their pool match against Jer­sey, be­fore a spec­tac­u­lar im­plo­sion brought about their down­fall. Pow­er­ful strik­ing in an in­nings of 47 by 20-year-old bats­man Ben Ward had car­ried Jer­sey to 147 from their 20 overs.

Open­ers Chi­rag Suri and Ro­han Mustafa then put on 60 in eight overs as UAE made a con­fi­dent start to their re­ply.

Once they were parted, though, the host na­tion col­lapsed to 112 all out. The demise was sparked by 18-yearold spin­ner Har­ri­son Car­lyon, who took 3-15, and Ben Stevens, who took 3-20.

The de­feat means UAE have lost two and won two so far in the tour­na­ment, with matches left against Nigeria on Thurs­day and Canada on Sunday.

“It has been frus­trat­ing for ev­ery­one, but we have man­aged to stay to­gether re­ally, re­ally well,” Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, said.

“The play­ers de­serve a lot of credit for how they have dealt with the sit­u­a­tion. We came into this game in a pretty good state. We have played some pretty good cricket, with two good vic­to­ries com­ing into this game.

“We have two games now, and clearly we need to win both to give our­selves a chance to make it to the next stages in Dubai.”

Pawan Singh / The Na­tional

Ben Ward plays a shot dur­ing his knock of 47 for Jer­sey as they beat UAE by 35 runs in their T20 World Cup Qual­i­fier match in Abu Dhabi

Chris Whi­teoak / The Na­tional

The UAE man­age­ment searched for Ghu­lam Shab­ber for the past few days, be­fore lo­cat­ing him in Pak­istan

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