While Emirati cricketer Fahad Al Hashmi is dreaming of making the final 15-member World Cup squad, he hopes the UAE’s participation in the showpiece event can draw more local players to the game.
Born and raised in Dubai, Al Hashmi, 32, is in the provisional 30-man squad named by national coach Aaqib Javed for next year’s World Cup.
Having impressed on the domestic circuit with his club Dubai’s Farooq CC and in the national training sessions, Al Hashmi, a fast-medium bowler, was rewarded with a place in November’s four-match ODI series against Afghanistan, claiming four wickets in his two games in his first national appearance for four years.
“It was a very big game for me and I bowled very well conceding very few runs,” said Al Hashmi, who dismissed Tillakaratne Dilshan in their 142-run loss to Sri Lanka in the 2008 Asia Cup. “My performance was good but I don’t know if I will be selected for the final squad; it depends on the selectors.”
He said it was pleasing to be back in the national fold and hopes to be on the plane to Australia and New Zealand next month.
“I felt really great to represent the UAE and Inshallah I will do my level best to be selected for the final squad. I’m still in the top 30 and hope to be in the final 15,” he said.
“I hope it can be the pathway to bring more Emiratis to the game because it will mean a lot to me and can be the start of something big for UAE cricket but let’s see.”
Having grown up in the UAE since birth, Al Hashmi has seen the sport make gradual progress.
But the game of cricket has often been overshadowed by other sports in the country, according to Al Hashmi.
“Yes, I know but the UAE nationals prefer football because that is very popular,” he replied when asked about the lack of Emiratis playing cricket.
“Football is the nation’s favourite game and the UAE nationals love their football.”
And he insists things will begin to change only when the UAE government lends its support to cricket.
“I really hope UAE playing in the World Cup can draw more people to the game. The government needs to get involved in it so we can get more Emiratis with their support,” he said.
“We can bring them from schools because they do play cricket in schools. There are national players around the country but the whole structure needs improvement.”
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