The disarray surrounding UAE cricket descended into further chaos on Tuesday when it was revealed wicketkeeper Ghulam Shabber had suddenly left the country in the middle of the T20 World Cup Qualifier.
There was no explanation for the 33-year-old going AWOL, but he has since been found safe and well in his native Pakistan.
The ECB shared information on Tuesday night confirming Shabber – who had played in the UAE’s opening defeat to Oman on Friday but was then rested for Saturday’s win against Ireland – failed to show up for a team meeting, at 11:00, ahead of Monday’s clash with Hong Kong.
He also was not present when the team bus departed for the game at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi later in the day, which is when team manager Peter Kelly conducted a health and safety wellness check on the player.
The latest revelation comes following the suspension of four of Shabber’s UAE colleagues in the last week after a corruption investigation was launched.
Mohammed Naveed, Qadeer Ahmed and Shaiman Anwar were provisionally suspended by the ICC after being charged last Wednesday with multiple violations of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.
Opener Ashfaq Ahmed was then provisionally suspended with immediate effect by the Emirates Cricket Board following the eight-wicket win over Hong Kong on Monday. Shabber absconding is not thought to be related to the probe at this time.
Kelly called family, friends and known associates of Shabber, as well as hospitals. His behaviour is said to be completely out of character.
Information subsequently became known that Shabber had left the country, and Kelly stated there is no reason known for his departure. The ECB have not been able to make contact with the Jhang-born left-hander but he is known to be safe, which Kelly said is of the utmost importance.
The ECB will continue to try to contact the player and ascertain why he has left the UAE, and ensure his safe well-being, and will continue to follow the ECB’s health and safety policy and procedures. If he cannot be contacted, ECB policies and procedures as the governing body of the sport will be adhered to and carried out.
Shabber, picked by the Toronto Nationals for this year’s Global T20 Canada tournament, made his List A debut for the UAE in their three-match series against Oman in October 2016, making his T20I debut that December against Afghanistan. His ODI bow came the following January.
The news surrounding Shabber came on a miserable day on the field for the UAE, who lost to Jersey by 35 runs.
Batting first, Jersey were bowled out for 147, with Benjamin Ward scoring 47. Zahoor Khan and Junaid Siddique took two wickets each for the hosts in the capital.
In reply, the UAE were initially in firm command, reaching 60 without loss in the ninth over – openers Rohan Mustafa (28) and Chirag Suri (27) ensuring a good start. But after that, they capitulated, with the next five batsmen going for single digit scores as they fell to 112 all out.
The result leaves them 2-2 at the tournament.
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