ABU DHABI // A succession of injuries has led UAE batsman Saqib Ali to confirm that he will retire from international cricket.
Saqib, 37, missed out on being named in the squad for the World Cup in February. He was recalled for the two-match ICC Cricket League Championship against Kenya in England in June and the World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Ireland the following month.
His return was hampered by a recurring back injury after their win over Kenya in Southampton. This led him to sit out the next game, which they lost to draw the series 1-1.
Unfortunately, Saqib’s troubles did not end there. He fractured his little finger during practice five days ahead of the T20 Qualifiers and was replaced in the squad by Rohan Mustafa.
“I was very disappointed that I couldn’t play in the T20 qualifiers. And for the second time, I was thinking of retirement,” he said.
[ – Five key UAE cricketers who could fill the void left by retired Khurram Khan ]
[ – Dropped and depressed, UAE batsman Saqib Ali at the crossroads ]
Saqib was open on his thought process, confirming he had first thought of quitting after he was omitted from plans for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“To quit the international arena was there on my mind after I was dropped from the 2015 World Cup squad, but some of my colleagues persuaded me to stay on,” he said.
After being overlooked by the Pakistan Cricket Board as a senior national team prospect, Saqib arrived in Abu Dhabi in 1997 looking for employment, joining the New Medical Centre (NMC).
Saqib was first picked for the UAE on the friendly tour to Bangladesh in 2006, and he made his international tournament debut against Namibia away in the ICC Intercontinental Cup in December.
He played for the country in five one-day internationals, 19 first-class matches, 58 List A games and 12 T20s.
The highlights of his international career were a top score of 195 in 2008 against Ireland and captaining the UAE at the Asia Cup in Pakistan in the same year.
His biggest disappointment was not going to the World Cup.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to play for the Pakistan first team after making it to the U19 national team (in 1995), and to play in the World Cup was my biggest dream after that,” he said.
“It is my fate. It could have happened to anyone in any sport. I can only feel that I was not destined to realise those two dreams, but I still feel fortunate.”
Saqib first suffered a serious knee injury that ruled him out of the game for more than eight months in 2011. He underwent surgery for a bulging disc in his lower back two years later but returned to action after 10 months.
Saqib says he can still be involved in the game by playing for his long-time employer NMC and might be considered for an assistant coaching role within the Emirates Cricket Board.
He has also signed on for the Masters Champions League in the UAE in February. Players, including former internationals such as Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis and Adam Gilchrist, will go into auction for the six franchise teams.
Follow us on Twitter at NatSportUAE