Burden of familiarity weighs in for UAE at cricket World Cup

Two more matches and two more chances to create some memories to last a lifetime, then it is a return to the more mundane practices of life, writes Paul Radley.

The UAE's Amjad Javed wants to make rival bowlers work hard for his wicket, but he can also hit the ball long, when set. Ross Setford / AP Photo
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WELLINGTON // Two more matches and two more chances to create some memories to last a lifetime, then it is a return to the more mundane practices of life.

Back to the office for a 6am start, perhaps a bit of loafing around the water cooler talking to people about that time you opened the batting in the World Cup, or whacked Wahab Riaz for six, or caught out Shikhar Dhawan one-handed.

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“This is the first time we have done a tour for more than one-and-a-half months and, yes, some players are getting tired,” Amjad Javed, the UAE all-rounder said. “As the days are coming closer, the guys are starting to think about their work and going back and doing the same stuff as before.

“If you are professional, you won’t be thinking about your work, you will be concentrating on your game rather than going back and working from 6am till 5pm again. It is a bit tough.”

Amjad is one of the lucky ones. He already has a kitbag full of memories to take with him when he leaves New Zealand next week. Luckily, he will know how to pack them, given his position as a cargo loader for Emirates Airline.

He will be going back to a job that is full-on, too. Before the World Cup he was working in the mornings, studying or sitting exams in the afternoons, then attending cricket training in the evenings.

His dedication earned him a promotion at work; he now travels all around the world on Emirates cargo flights.

Along with Shaiman Anwar, who was for a while ahead of Kumar Sangakkara, AB de Villiers and everyone else as the tournament’s leading run scorer, Amjad has been the UAE’s outstanding player at this World Cup.

Yet he refuses to rest on his laurels. Tellingly, his favourite memory from the tournament is one that was seminal in the national team failing to beat Ireland.

“The Ed Joyce wicket when the bails did not fall down,” he said, referring to the moment the zing stumps lit up like a Christmas tree, only for the bails to stay lodged in their grooves.

He is proud of the runs he has got down the order, which have allowed the UAE to post competitive totals in all but one game, but is frustrated he has missed out on reaching 50 twice in the competition.

His time with the bat has been characterised by some massive hitting. There are few players in the tournament who hit the ball as far as he does, as typified by his 99-metre-straight six in the closing overs against Pakistan.

Shaiman said earlier in the tournament that Amjad and Mohammed Naveed hit the ball farther than he does, but reckons they do not have to worry about the consequences of free hitting. “Those two are primarily bowlers and they can do what they like while batting,” Shaiman said.

Amjad contests that analysis, though. “It is not like that, you have to take some responsibility,” said Amjad, who has scores of 25 not out, 42, two and 40 batting at No 8 in this tournament.

“Naveed is just a bowler but I am playing as an all-rounder.

“When I am set, I like to go big, and I’m lucky that I can hit some big sixes.”

Aaqib Javed, the UAE coach, reckons his namesake Amjad has set the example for his teammates with his performances at this competition.

“He is a very valuable player, a brave player, who gives us a lot of confidence,” Aaqib said.

pradley@thenational.ae

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