CP Rizwan hopeful 'better things are on the way' as he targets UAE comeback

Former captain has travelled the globe in bid to prove his worth after new-born son's sickness

Former UAE captain CP Rizwan during a T20 against Afghanistan at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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When CP Rizwan lost the UAE captaincy and then his place in the side during a slump in the national team’s fortunes earlier this year, he might have been moved to give the game away.

Now into his mid-30s, he had borne the brunt of a confused end to the coaching reign of Robin Singh, and his own form had suffered in direct correlation to the side’s.

He lost the armband to Muhammad Waseem overnight during a portentous series in the World Cup League 2 in Dubai. He made the squad for the trip to Nepal that followed but lost his place in the XI.

The situation would have been enough to test the resolve of the most hardened player, but the idea it might push Rizwan to give up could not have been further from the case.

The former captain has almost literally gone to the end of the earth and back again to try to prove his commitment to making a comeback.

Even though his wife had only recently given birth, Rizwan travelled to the United States earlier this month to take up a chance to play in Minor League Cricket.

Playing alongside the likes of Rusty Theron, the South African former IPL fast bowler, and Sri Lankan international Angelo Perera was too good an opportunity to turn down.

His side, the East Bay Blazers, were flying in the competition when Rizwan received a call from home saying his new young son had been hospitalised with a chest infection.

He flew back to the UAE immediately. He spent a number of nights in hospital in Dubai with his son, Hud, in ICU, before he was discharged at the weekend.

Once the family were settled at home again, Rizwan rebooked to return to the US, where the Blazers will enter the play-offs this week.

“Family is the most important so I came back here,” Rizwan, 35, said before boarding his flight back to America.

“Alhamdulillah, he is better now. It was a tough thing leaving when we had a new kid. He had arrived in the world 10 days premature.

“I did not have much time with him, but obviously cricket is important, too. I ensured everything was fine and then travelled. Then this happened, so I had to come back.”

Rizwan may have been on the outside looking in on the national team in recent months, but his own playing calendar is still packed.

When he returns from Minor League Cricket, he will be straight into the new ILT20 development tournament in Dubai.

The six-team competition is essentially a casting for the main event. The players involved are competing to be noticed by the franchises.

Rizwan himself was part of the Gulf Giants side which won the first DP World ILT20 earlier this year, and hopes to be part of it again. All with the bigger goal of forcing his way back into UAE reckoning.

“I’m looking forward to that as it is one of the key platforms for us to put our case forward again,” said Rizwan, who will play for the Braves in the new event.

“I want to do very well in that tournament and, Inshallah, make a comeback for the national team and also [get selected] for the ILT20.

“That is not in our control, but I am doing my part. I am playing and training hard, doing fitness and skill training whenever I can.

“I just want to do the things best which are in my control so I can put up my case again. I am looking forward to serving UAE cricket again. I want to do that to the best of my ability.”

Since Rizwan last played, the national team has been overhauled, with a focus on young players.

Rizwan is undeterred, though. He takes inspiration from the fact Imran Khan led Pakistan to a World Cup title in 1992 at the age of 38.

“That shows age does not matter,” Rizwan said. “It is about your performance on the field, if you are fit enough to represent the country.

“That is more important than age. Age does not guarantee you a place, it is just your performance.

“It is really important to give a platform for youngsters, but you also have to earn that right.

Aayan [Khan, the 17-year-old national team all-rounder] is a prime example. He is still young, but he earned that right. Age does matter if you are fit enough and performing well.

“I have always kept big goals. When you have bigger goals, there will be obstacles and roadblocks, but that is all part of the journey. Still my goals are to become one of the best UAE players.

“I am really looking forward to the challenge ahead. I am sure better things are on the way.”

Updated: September 25, 2023, 8:09 AM