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Satire Saturday | Sharjah’s cricketing journey from Desert Storm to ‘Graveyard’

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Sharjah's cricketing journey, in its own words

SportsCafe

Satire Saturday | Sharjah’s cricketing journey from Desert Storm to ‘Graveyard’

In this week’s Satire Saturday, we have finally got hold of the most talked-about grounds in the United Arab Emirates, yes, the Sharjah cricket ground. We all know how terrible the ground is, in terms of offering something for the bowler but hear it from the cricket stadium itself.

Following the 449-run game between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, the Twitter world was immediately back with their comments reserved for the all-rounder Rahul Tewatia. However, earlier on the same day, there were plenty of comments about the ‘iconic’ Sharjah Cricket Ground on how dead it was for the bowlers while being god-like to the batsmen. Now that made us wonder at SportsCafe if we think of it as a ‘dead’ pitch for the bowlers, how is the ground reacting to all these unnecessary criticism. 

That’s when we got this miracle wish, a rare chance to get the ground talking, have you ever heard that before? Nah, this is the only time you would hear this as well, at least in the IPL. Built-in the 80s, Sharjah Cricket Stadium quickly became the most sought after ground in the United Arab Emirates, hosting over 198 ODIs and four Tests before 2003, when the new era of cricket took over. More famously, it’s known for Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘Desert Storm,’ which always holds a special place in the Indian cricketing history. A ground that had produced many classics in the past has now been reduced to a graveyard, or at least it looks like that. 

“Don’t call me that!” comes a voice from the other end, it was the ground talking after a long and strenuous day at work. It was a natural sigh after a long day at work but not a familiar one. The ground well-known for its classics has been reduced to a batting goldust where batsmen play like it's a carnival. 

“Oh man, after the incredible 80s and 90s in cricketing history, I was reduced to being known as a hunting ground for match-fixers. However, I’m really thankful to India for still remembering me for that Sachin Tendulkar knock, it was special, yeah,” Sharjah added. 

So how do we address you, “The home of match-fixers or graveyard,” we asked the ground? It replied in almost immediacy, “Don’t do that to me,” in a voice filled with tears. “What happened,” we asked and that started a ‘long long rant,’ so hear it out!

“After one of the toughest years in my so-called cricketing career, I was finally happy that cricket was back in the country when Pakistan decided to come back to us as their host. It was a pleasant experience to meet an acquaintance right, it felt that way. But really it was 2016 when I first met this bizarre cricketing format, what is it called, batsman’s paradise or T20, whatever.

“Before the first game, I think it was Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United, where our dear friend-turned-bookie Sharjeel Khan played a match-winning innings. That was the first time cricket was back, I felt really happy. I was ready to sacrifice myself and the conditions for cricket to be back, they promised me that it would be a one-time thing (the high scoring game).

“Just after that, it was another painful day, the ball was flying out of the ground like it was some sort of club cricket. But that preceded a game where Islamabad scored just 117. I was laughing at them, how these fools could only score 117. At the same time, I realised that my dear curator was working on building a pitch which would assist batsmen and bowlers equally or that’s what he told me. It continued for a while, scores started getting lower and pitch became slower, as promised and before I realised, it was the last game of the entire season. That’s when I met this intelligent cricketer, Dawid Malan, you must know him very well today I presume.”

Sorry to interrupt, how about 2017 PSL, we asked? 

“2017 was no different, to be honest, it was not very high scoring but not very low scoring as well. It was a nice contest between the bat and the ball. Oh wait, did the T10 happen in 2017? Ah, thanks for reminding me, that year there were signs that the pitch was turning ugly, I somewhat knew it beforehand.

“Oh I forgot, towards the end of the tournament, it was getting worse, it became a flat wicket and the crowd was happy on their feet, with every ball reaching them in the stands. I thought it’s just because of the T10 tournament that they are doing it all, keeping the bookies satisfied. The 2018 PSL season went as well, with a similar offer. But it was in 2019 when fortunes started changing. I heard the ground staff talking to the PSL chiefs and it ended with the PSL members wanting high scores. That ended a legacy that I had or I thought.” 

That’s fine, tell us your experience of being left disappointed after the 2019 PSL season when the T10 spectacle was taken away from you. What did you feel?

“Dejected, disappointed and highly freakingly annoyed. I thought there was no more cricket left in myself, no one likes me or wanted to enjoy playing cricket in the ground. It left me asking for questions, what did I do wrong? Why do I deserve something like this, that’s when I questioned the authorities for not playing me. You know, they had the audacity to ask me to shut up or they told me that I would be publicly humiliated and punished. I didn’t see it coming. In hindsight, IPL 2020 was just the punishment.” 

So what changed in between? 

“In between my last assignment and this, a lot had changed. I remember looking at the ground-staff walking again and uttering this to me, “watch out, it’s coming your way.” I was terribly confused what it could be, was it an asteroid or something that was about to hit me. Then it really hit me, as you have all watched, holy crap, who even creates such a pitch, what a shame, I thought to myself.

“The wretched man, lookup, in the box that stupid Bengali guy Sourav Ganguly who calls himself a Tiger, that guy had told the curator in front of my eyes that he wants a killer of a pitch. Aye, you piece of bread, look at me now, I’m struggling to even breathe, all because of you wanting to be better than Sachin Tendulkar. He earned his runs, you couldn’t even earn yourself respect hosting such a stupid tournament here. You think people even care about the matches in Sharjah, the other day I saw a bunch of tweeples, what do you call them, influencers criticising the conditions. I totally agree with them, I was a king now I don’t know what I could call myself. I have fallen down from the cliff and hit the rock end.

“It is BCCI, they are the reason behind my death, that’s what I would write in my suicide note. You know they took away all my greens, oh hold on, not the ones you are thinking but the ones that held my integrity till date, it was my clothes. Now they have stripped me naked and made me look like a spectacle. I’m not, don’t shame me this freaking way, you twigs. I know I’m more famous than you, Ganguly but you shouldn’t do this just for pulling out a lot of money in the outside world.

“More than that, do y'all remember this statement from him of making this season’s IPL as one of the most-watched events. That is all because of me, they took away everything from me and built this stupid pitch in trying to build a show. Go away, just go away you Ganguly, I don’t want to see myself this way. I know I’m terrible, I know I’m a graveyard but at this point, I’m just done.” 

We saw it, ‘Sharjah Cricket Ground’ was dead, right in front of our eyes, leaving behind a legacy in Indian cricket. 865 runs later, Rest well and rest in peace, Sharjah Cricket Ground - 2020

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