Sharjah-based coach Kashif Daud relishing the chance to win first UAE cap at the age of 34

Allrounder has come on a long route from Pakistan to international cricket

DUBAI UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 24 DECEMBER 2020. Emirates D20 Final, Sharjah (Orange) vs Fujairah (Blue) at the Dubai International Stadium. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Amith Passela. Section: Sport.
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A Sharjah-based cricket coach says he is fulfilling a lifetime ambition after being selected to join the ranks of the international game for the first time.

Kashif Daud is one of four uncapped players in the UAE squad to face Ireland in the one-day international series in Abu Dhabi, which starts on Friday.

The call up represents a belated shot at the international game for a player who turns 35 next month, and who once foresaw an entirely different route to the top.

Born in Sialkot, he harboured the childhood dream of playing for Pakistan, and had a 10-year first-class career alongside luminaries such as Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq and Imran Nazir before moving to UAE.

In his last match in the Qaid-e-Azam Trophy, he took seven for 30 – only to be cut from the side immediately after.

“I was playing with all the big names of Pakistan cricket at that time, then I don’t know what happened,” Daud said.

“At that time, in my department the competition was very high. Maybe they wanted to bring new kids into the team, but I don’t know why they dropped me.

“I gave my best, took seven wickets in my last match. I don’t know what happened there.

“After I came back to Pakistan from playing as an overseas player in Scotland, I was still not selected, so I thought I had to move somewhere else.”

Daud was invited to the UAE by his friend Mohammed Qasim, the former national team batsman, and he travelled on a tourist visa for a month in 2016.

He loved it, and made it his home after he secured a job as a coach at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

“When I went to the UK for the first time [as an overseas pro in club cricket] I had done my Level 2 coaching course,” Daud said.

“To go to the UK to play, you had to have done coaching courses, too. I was very young, and wanted to play for my country, Pakistan, but I thought ‘No problem’.

“When I came to UAE in 2016, I was looking for a job, any job. I went to Sharjah Cricket Stadium. They wanted to add new players to their team.

“I bowled in the nets at a trial. I told them I had done my Level 2 coaching course, and they said: ‘OK, we are looking for a coach as well.’

“They offered a handsome package, a residence visa, and I was very grateful, because I was looking for a job.”

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Sport. Cricket. ECB Blues' Kashif Daud bowls during the match between the ECB Blues and Dubai in the Emirates D10. Friday, July 24th, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Daud has repaid Sharjah’s faith on the playing field, as well as the training one. As recently as last month, he won them the title at the Emirates D20 at Dubai International Stadium.

An allrounder whose stronger suit is generally regarded to be his bowling, he hit a half century in the semi-final to beat an ECB Blues team that was largely the UAE team by another name.

Then he was man of the match in the final as Sharjah beat the previously undefeated Fujairah to snatch the title, thanks to his 51 not out.

His excellence in a tournament that was streamed live online was well timed. First, he landed a deal to play for Delhi Bulls in the Abu Dhabi T10.

And now he has been called up to the national team for the first time, too, for the series against Ireland.

“It means a lot to me to play international cricket,” Daud said of his selection.

“I wished I could have played for Pakistan, but now I’m resident over here for the past four years. I feel I’m a local over here. This is my second home.

“I think 2021 has already been lucky for me. I have been picked for two big things. First, to represent the UAE in international cricket, and secondly, as part of the Abu Dhabi T10.

“After finishing this series, I am very excited to be part of Delhi Bulls as well.”

The first one-day international between UAE and Ireland starts at 9.30am on Friday at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The four matches will be streamed live online.