Abu Dhabi: Enam-ul-Haq has been in the insurance industry for over three decades here in the UAE, and it is perhaps the trust factor which has helped him remain in his other role, as the General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council, since 1993.
His association with cricket started when he was a university player, then a member of the Punjab under-19 team before becoming a first-class cricketer in Multan, Pakistan.
Nowadays, the cricket fraternity here in the UAE capital sees him as the perennial general secretary or, as current ADCC President Wajahat Husseain calls him, “Abu Dhabi cricket’s Rock of Gibraltar”.
An off-spinner who could also bat, Enam has played many a match-winning role for his first employers Al Futtaim and the Bank of Sharjah before he came to Abu Dhabi and started his own club, Abu Dhabi Gentlemen.
Enam now heads Galaxy Insurance Brokers as their Abu Dhabi General Manager and, while continuing as the General Secretary of ADCC, is also a selector with the Emirates Cricket Board.
In an interview with Gulf News, Enam spoke of his dream of seeing the UAE progress to become a full International Cricket Council (ICC) member country and gain ODI status.
Gulf News: Can you briefly take us back to how it all started for you in cricket and how you became a cricket administrator?
Enam-ul-Haq: Cricket is my passion, which is a very common cliché. It is in my soul, if I may say so. I just wanted to play and serve cricket. I started playing here in local matches and in-house events, and it was in 1988 that a few cricket enthusiasts came to me to help organise a game between a visiting Punjab XI team that consisted of Test greats like Majid Khan, Salim Altaf, Inthikhab Alam, Wasim Raja and Azhar Khan. We formed a group and staged the game which attracted over 10,000 fans and it started from there.
What was your role in the formation of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council?
As a group we convinced Omer Yousuf to take over as the first president while UAE national Syed Atiq was the chairman. Atiq’s interest in helping the game of cricket in Abu Dhabi was a major foundation, and he played a significant part to make cricket what it is today in Abu Dhabi.
When did you take an official position in ADCC?
When the first term of four years was over, I asled B.R. Shetty to become the president. He used to live in the same building and we needed support from the corporate world. I was nominated as general secretary. We had about 14 clubs when we started and we began to get more teams. Organised club cricket began to take shape and grow at a fast pace.
What about the infrastructure then and the progress so far?
Initially we faced a lot of difficulties; no ground, no proper pitches, virtually no facilities. But we had a lot of people in Abu Dhabi who were so passionate that it was possible to dream. And my biggest moment in cricket was when the Zayed International Cricket Stadium was inaugurated. While many of us worked towards this, it was Syed Atiq who got the land sanctioned for us from the late President Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan — may his soul rest in peace. And it was the guidance and support of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and our Chairman, who helped us realise our dream of modern playing facilities.
What about your club Abu Dhabi Gentlemen?
We are still in the Second Division. AD Gentlemen have the rare distinction of having two Test stars play — Saleem Altaf and Aftab Baloch. We have won almost all the cricket tournaments in Abu Dhabi and many of those who started with us gave gained employment with a lot of companies here.
How do you see cricket evolving in the UAE over the next ten years?
I have been an ECB selector for six years now. The UAE has already been knocking on the doors of having ODI status. I would be very happy to see the UAE become a full member with ODI status. With the UAE hosting so many Test-playing countries and with many ICC and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) events taking place here, cricket in the UAE is now the leader in cricket in the region. And there is more to come.