Rameez Shahzad has flown to England to play club cricket this summer ahead of the UAE’s participation at the Asia Cup Qualifiers later this year.
The 30-year-old batsman has put pen to paper on a short-team deal with Philadelphia, who play in the Durham Cricket League after being recommended by Durham’s director of cricket, Geoff Cook.
Shahzad is no stranger to English conditions. He spent time in the UK earlier in his career after travelling to the north-east of the country for his studies. He had played for Sunderland and South Shields in the Premier League.
His time away in the UK meant he had to wait to be eligible again to qualify as a resident as per the ICC rules after making his international debut for the UAE way back in 2005. He subsequently made his comeback during the Scotland tour in 2016.
Since then, Shahzad has been an integral member of the UAE side and is one of the contracted players on the Emirates Cricket Board’s books.
After a busy four months in 2018 that saw the national team compete in the Division Two World Cricket League as well as the World Cup Qualifiers, the UAE’s next assignment is September’s Asia Cup Qualifiers.
The UAE will host the main event later that month and Shahzad will use the England as vital preparation for that tournament.
“We don’t have anything until August so I thought that I might as well go to England and play cricket,” he said. “The conditions in the UK are a lot different than what it is in the UAE. But I think more importantly for me, it will be a great learning experience because I will learn more as a player. Playing club cricket and then ODI cricket, it will be easier for me.”
He looks set to make his debut this weekend and it’s a challenge that he’s looking forward to.
“I’m looking forward to it for sure,” he said. “The aim for me is to get as many runs as possible for them. It’s a very competitive league and they are looking to get promoted into the Premier League. My aim is to do really well and get them promoted.”
As well as enhancing his knowledge and skills, he also hopes his international team-mates can follow in his footsteps and be given a chance to play in England.
“If I play well here, one of my aims would be for my team-mates to try and earn a contract. I know our UAE guys deserve it because we are really good but because we’re Associate members, we’re sometimes overlooked, so I hope that can change.”
Know more about Sport360 Application