Disillusioned UAE batsman Chirag Suri takes indefinite break from cricket

Former IPL recruit was once seen as a potential future captain of the national team but has stopped playing aged 28

Chirag Suri has decided to walk away from UAE cricket. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Chirag Suri, the former UAE vice-captain, is taking an indefinite break from cricket after becoming disillusioned with the sport.

The 28-year-old batter was among the leading run-scorers in one-day International cricket in the world last year.

Of UAE batters, only Vriitya Aravind managed more than Suri’s aggregate of 586 ODI runs across the calendar year, a haul which included two centuries.

However, Suri has played just two ODIs for the national team since a portentous Cricket World Cup League 2 series in Scotland in August 2022.

He played at the T20 World Cup in Australia last year, but lost his place in the side for the last game, only to return for those two ODIs against Namibia in February.

He has also been conspicuous by his absence from the roster of 90 players involved in the International League T20 development tournament, which will reach its conclusion in Dubai on Tuesday.

That competition is a shop window for players to show their skills to the six franchises of the main DP World ILT20, but Suri opted out of participating.

Suri played for Dubai Capitals, alongside the likes of Robin Uthappa, Rovman Powell and Adam Zampa, during the inaugural ILT20 season at the start of this year.

His sporadic appearances since have been in part due to a hamstring injury. He says he felt neglected during his recuperation, and fell out of love for the game in the months after.

He walked away from his central contract this summer, and has turned his attention to real estate development in his time away from the sport.

He says the atmosphere surrounding the national team fueled his disillusionment with the game.

We pushed it because of the [T20] World Cup [last October], but even before that, the atmosphere was not right,” Suri said.

“I wasn’t enjoying it, and for me, I am not playing cricket to put food on my table. For me, cricket is something I love doing, the place I go to enjoy myself.

“I play the game because I love the game. When the love was going because of the way they are doing things, it was not to my liking.”

Suri’s most recent appearances for the national team came during the chaotic final days of the tenure of Robin Singh as coach.

That spell was characterised by three different captains – Ahmed Raza, CP Rizwan and Muhammad Waseem – and low team morale.

Suri, who was the first and so far only player from the UAE to be recruited to the Indian Premier League having spent a season with Gujarat Lions in 2017, said the players were feeling under appreciated.

“I have given my whole cricket life for this country, was the first player from here to go to the IPL, the first of so many things,” said Suri, who played for the national team on their debut appearance at an U19 World Cup in 2014.

“I used to love going into this environment. But now, if you are not appreciated, why would you go there? I am not enjoying my cricket, which is the worst part.

“They have made it like a job. That is not why we play the game.”

Since he last played, the makeup of the national team has been altered with a number of new age-group products given their chance.

The full-time successor to Singh as coach has yet to be appointed, with Mudassar Nazar set to continue in interim charge for the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier in Nepal later this month.

“I like the fact they are giving youngsters a chance, but you cannot keep overhauling the team,” Suri said.

“You will get success in parts, but when the crucial times come we will suffer, which is what happens.

“Why don’t we grow? Oman, for example, consistently played the same players whether they do good or bad for the past 10 years.

“I don’t want to be involved in something when you feel like you are not wanted.

“It is all about respect. I play the game because I love it. I gained a lot of respect and I am not going to play when I am not respected.

“Of course, I want to play. These are the years I should be playing. But not at the cost of other things.”

Updated: October 10, 2023, 2:43 AM