Long-awaited UAE debut gives Hazrat Luqman perfect belated birthday present

Peshawar-born fast bowler, 34, made first appearance in international cricket against Scotland in T20 series

UAE's Hazrat Luqman celebrates after taking the wicket of Scotland opener George Munsey, his first in international cricket. Photo: ECB
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Upon turning 34 years old this week, Hazrat Luqman received one of his most treasured birthday presents – albeit a day late.

The Peshawar-born fast bowler celebrated his birthday on Sunday. The following day, he was gifted a cap by his friend and mentor, Muhammad Waseem, ahead of his long-awaited debut for the UAE national team.

“He presented me the cap and told me this was the day I had been waiting for,” Luqman said.

“He said, ‘I know you have been working very hard. Good luck and enjoy yourself'. He was very encouraging and so were the rest of the team.

“Getting the cap from him gave me plenty of motivation to do well.”

A first appearance in international cricket has been a long time coming for Luqman. He represented Abbottabad in regional cricket back in Pakistan before moving to the Emirates to take up a job as a salesman.

He flitted between Sharjah and Pakistan from 2013 onwards, before finally settling in the latter from 2017, when he secured work – and a place in the staff cricket team – with Karwan.

“My job brought me here but as soon as I began work I started playing cricket as well,” he said.

“The company gave me the option to play cricket with their team, and from there I progressed to domestic cricket.

“In 2020 I started impressing people with my bowling and that was when I started to feel like I had a talent that could be nurtured and I could make a career out of the game in the UAE.”

Now into his mid-30s, Luqman might have feared international recognition had passed him by – especially in an increasingly youthful national team set-up.

However, the absence of two of the bright young things of UAE cricket for the three-game T20 international series against Scotland in Dubai left an opening for him.

Muhammad Jawadullah, the outstanding 25-year-old left-arm quick, is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

And Ali Naseer, the 20-year-old all-rounder, has had to skip the past two weeks of international duty to return to the UK for university, having previously missed the best part of two months for the ILT20.

Whatever the circumstances of his elevation, Luqman is just grateful to have been considered for a place in the bowling attack.

He credits Waseem, his team captain at club and now international level, for motivating him to believe he is good enough to play international cricket.

“Waseem was always encouraging me, telling me my basics were good and that I had the ability if I continued to work hard,” Luqman said.

“It is lucky for me that he is the captain of the UAE team. I have been playing under him for the past four or five years in domestic cricket so he knows my game well.

“He has been very supportive and encouraging. He has always been there for me and knows my game inside out, which has made settling in comfortable.”

Luqman’s first foray into international cricket has provided a tough examination. He is not the first UAE bowler to have suffered via the bat of George Munsey, the big-hitting Scotland opener.

At least, though, Luqman was able to bounce back in the second match of the series at Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday night. It was then that Munsey became his first victim in UAE colours.

“In the first game Munsey played really well and in the second game he was attacking me as well, so to get his wicket, I was overjoyed,” Luqman said.

“My family have been watching the matches and have been proud and happy that I am now an international cricketer representing the UAE.”

His family away from home have been proud of him, too. Waseem might have had to inform his friend that he would have to make way for another debutant, Omid Rahman, in Thursday’s series decider in Dubai. The national team fell to a 32-run defeat, having posted their lowest score in international cricket.

But the captain is still impressed with much of what he has seen from Luqman.

“He is a very good bowler who has worked very hard to get this opportunity,” Waseem said.

“For the past five or six years he has been struggling with his job but has been doing everything to improve in cricket, and I am very happy that finally he has had the chance to debut for UAE.

“Everyone feels pressure in their debut but the way he is bowling I feel like he has just had one bad over in each of the games.

“I’m still very happy with him. Inshallah he can do better in the upcoming games.”

Updated: March 15, 2024, 3:43 AM