Graeme Cremer glad to be back in action despite tough return in Emirates D10

Former Zimbabwe captain agreed to help out Team Abu Dhabi despite the fact he had not played any cricket for the best part of two years

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Returning figures of none for 33 from two overs might not have been the dream comeback that Graeme Cremer had envisaged when he returned to cricket this week.

Having taken over 200 international wickets at the top level of the game, the former Zimbabwe captain is the highest pedigree player involved in the Emirates D10.

But then factor in the fact he had not played any cricket for the best part of two years before agreeing to help out Team Abu Dhabi this week.

And this is his first crack at T10 cricket, the most unfavourable format for bowlers, with matches being played on the smaller of the ICC Academy’s two ovals, and with the boundaries brought in.

Plus, unlike many of the players involved in this tournament, getting back on the cricket field was nowhere near the forefront of his thinking during lockdown.

Cremer moved to Dubai a little under two years ago when his wife, Merna, landed a job as a pilot flying Boeing 777s for Emirates.

The Dubai airline has cut its workforce by as much as 15 per cent because of the effects of the pandemic. The job cuts have included pilots.

“It has been really stressful,” Cremer said. “There were two waves of lay-offs and we were lucky to survive both, but a lot of people on our street in the Emirates compound have lost their jobs.

“We weren’t directly affected in that way, but people that we have known really well for the past two years are all of a sudden out of a job and having to leave.

“It really hit home when that started happening, but luckily we are still here. We are sitting tight and hoping that the demand in the travel industry comes back.

“It has really picked up over the past couple of weeks, so that is good news.”

More good news is the fact Cremer is back on the cricket field. The absence of a player of his skill and experience is a waste, although UAE cricket has sporadically benefitted.

Cremer acted as a coaching consultant for the national team last year, most notably ahead of the UAE’s one-day international tour to Zimbabwe.

He has reprised his link up with Dougie Brown, who was then the UAE head coach, while playing for Team Abu Dhabi.

The difficulties posed for players travelling between emirates from Abu Dhabi at present has meant the side nominally representing the capital have called on a few Dubai residents to bolster their side.

Enlisting Cremer to captain has been a boon, and the leg-spinner is delighted to be back on the field.

HARARE, ZIMBABWE - MARCH 19: Graeme Cremer of Zimbabwe celebrates the wicket of Shimron Hetmyer of The West Indies during The Cricket World Cup Qualifier between The West Indies and Zimbabwe at The Harare Sports Club on March 19, 2018 in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Photo by Julian Herbert-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

“With the boundaries so small, it is has been tough,” Cremer said. “This is my first playing experience and especially the first day [was tough], with also captaining the side. But having got into the second day it was feeling a bit less rusty.”

Aged just 33, Cremer has not given up on a return to represented Zimbabwe one day, but acknowledges it is unlikely to be any time soon, given the current climate.

For now, though, he is happy to find matches where he can, as well as add to his experience coaching the game.

“I really missed playing, and being on the field, but not things like the stiffness the following day,” Cremer said.

“I do miss playing. I’d love to play as much as I can, and be involved in as many tournaments in and around the UAE.

“I’m also hoping to be part of cricket in a coach role, whatever that looks like and whatever comes up.

“I want to stay involved where I can, depending on what comes up. To be able to do both [coach and play] would be great.”