The young UAE cricketer from humble beginnings determined to make his dreams come true

Osama Hassan top scored for the national team at the recent U10 Asia Cup that he hopes will put him in contention for next year's World Cup

Osama Hassan was top scorer for the UAE at the recent Under 19 Asia Cup held in Sri Lanka. Reem Mohammed / The National
Osama Hassan was top scorer for the UAE at the recent Under 19 Asia Cup held in Sri Lanka. Reem Mohammed / The National

Osama Hassan knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles.

His route to the UAE age-group teams has not been an easy one. Unlike many of his teammates in the Under 19 squad, Osama had no access to formal coaching in Al Ain, whether at an academy or at school under a qualified coach.

He caught the cricket bug from his father, a Pakistani who works as an imam at a local mosque. Osama moved with the rest of his family to the Garden City aged three. “My father had played cricket and he was the first to teach me how to bat and bowl in the backyard of my home in Al Ain,” Osama, the sixth child in a family of eight, said.

His two older brothers (Khalil and Naseem) were playing for Young Talents Cricket Academy and invited him to play for the same academy in an U11 tournament in 2014. That was Osama's first experience playing hard-ball cricket.

Osama, 17, caught the attention of former UAE national team coach and 1992 Cricket World Cup winner Aaqib Javed when picked in the national age-group pool in 2015.

“It was the first time I got to train twice a week for two months and thereafter I had the opportunity to attend similar training whenever the UAE U19s were preparing for a competition, sometimes five days a week,” he said.

“I feel I have improved a lot from the training I have got. My shot selections are better and I could face fast bowling with more confidence having worked on the bowling machine at over 150kmph.”

Osama's potential was first spotted, however, by coaches at Zayed Cricket Academy when he represented his school in the Abu Dhabi School League in 2014.

“He had natural abilities and for a young lad at that time he showed immense potential as a player,” said Sandeep Dhuri, an U19 coach at the academy, a former UAE and Ranji Trophy batsman.

“He could hit the ball out of the ground with ease and could turn a game around with his ability to score fast.”

“He was a quick learner too. On the few occasions he came to the academy, I noticed he picked up anything taught to him instantly and execute it in no time.”

Though he flourished on the pitch, making the more than 300-kilometre round-trip to the academy in Abu Dhabi from Al Ain proved a problem.

“I loved to attend training but found it very hard for me to travel from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi every week,” he explained.

“I come from a very humble surrounding. My father wasn’t in a position to support me financially on my cricket even though he is passionate about the game.”

Osama Hassan caught the cricket bug from his father, a Pakistani who works as an imam at a local mosque in Al Ain. Reem Mohammed / The National
Osama Hassan caught the cricket bug from his father, a Pakistani who works as an imam at a local mosque in Al Ain. Reem Mohammed / The National

The Emirates Cricket Board pays Osama a travel allowance and he remains loyal to the coaches who nurtured him, playing a a star role for the academy to win the first two editions of the National Academies League in 2017 and 2018. He has been part of the UAE U19 squad for over three years but missed out on selection for the World Cup Qualifier in Malaysia earlier this year where the national team secured their spot for next year's finals in South Africa.

But out of adversity, the teenager found strength. Determined to keep his name on the selectors' lips, Osama travelled with the squad to Sri Lanka for the U19 Asia Cup last month and topped the team's scoring charts with scores of 55, 58 and 16 against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, respectively.

“Every step forward in cricket was big moment for me and to be selected for the UAE U19 was even bigger,” Osama said.

“I’m looking forward to the U19 World Cup and play against the established nations in cricket. For me, it’s a dream come true.”

Published: September 26, 2019 09:47 AM

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