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Cricket 'stadium' sprouts in unlikely Sharjah corner

Late night community matches attract thousands in Ramadan, with plenty of tea and kebab breaks

Image Credit: Arshad Ali/XPRESS
Hot spot: The dusty corner near TroyUniversity is transformed into a carnivalof cricket, socialising and feasting after sunset.

SHARJAH An unlikely swathe of land in Sharjah’s industrial area has sprung to life with thousands of residents flocking there for night-long community cricket matches during Ramadan.

The dusty unused corner in Industrial Area 1 near Troy University has been transformed into a Ramadan-long carnival of cricket, socialising and feasting after sunset. Thousands of residents, some from Dubai and Ajman, flock there to see local teams compete for the Ramadan trophy organised by the Al Madina Cricket Academy.

On weekends and for important matches, an estimated 3,000 people visit the venue.

Lasting till about 3am each night, the Ramadan night cricket matches draw mostly low-income Pakistani workers looking for a break from routine, tough day jobs. Expat fans from other countries too — Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh — cheer for their local teams, with plenty of tea and kebab breaks in between.

The once-rundown plot has been reinvented into an open-air makeshift stadium of sorts, with plastic seats marking the borders, mini-floodlights, a giant TV screen, parking area and food stalls at hand. The action starts at about 9.30pm. Entry is free in this event, which has come to be seen as a Ramadan tradition now. “I’m so glad to have this event in my life, otherwise I would have to watch TV at home. It’s great to be out with so many people cheering and having fun, even if it’s hot,” said a Pakistani worker.

This year, there is a Dh7,700 cash prize for the winning team and a Dh3,300 reward for the runner up, with trophies and medals also awarded. It costs Dh900 to register in the tournament, which is a special “tape ball” take on cricket, with just eight overs and players. About 60 teams are taking part this year.