Sharjah: In a bold move that is bound to boost the quality of cricket being played in the UAE, Sharjah Cricket Council have moved to revive the Cricketers Benefit Fund Series (CBFS) and given it a new and specific target: an enhanced focus on the local game.
Established in 1981 by Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, the CBFS’ main aim was to honour contemporary and past greats of the game from India and Pakistan. And it propelled Sharjah and the UAE’s rise in international cricketing circles, as it hosted a number of series featuring the two cricketing giants.
Needless to say CBFS was an instant hit, but now its renewal will instead focus on the future. Targeted at the young and with an eye on boosting participation at the grass roots, the programme will be designed to channel local talent through invitational inter-academy tournaments.
SCC’s ambitions are huge and they hope to achieve a vibrant cricketing culture through league format tournaments at various levels.
There will be numerous T20, 50-over and two-day Tests for elite division and Under-19 players, with the younger U13, U15 and U17 age groups also involved in regular tournament action. Players participating in the leagues will be monitored by the SCC Selection Committee headed by Khalaf Bukhatir, the CEO of Sharjah Stadium, who is also one of Mr Abdul Rahman’s sons, and those picked will earn a chance to enter the exclusive SCC Development Squad.
CBFS is being endorsed by the SCC and will run under the auspices of Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, Khalaf said: “Sharjah Cricket Stadium has been actively involved in domestic and international cricket since 1981 and now we venture into a new dimension. This unique initiative by Sharjah Cricket Council intends to bring all the reputed cricket academies in UAE together to play cricket in state-of-the art cricket facilities at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium.”
Massive prize money has been reserved for the best performances according to the SCC statement.
Khalaf added: “This new platform will provide the ideal opportunity for some razor-sharp games and serve as the perfect spawning ground for all aspiring and emerging cricketers of UAE to showcase their talent.”
Elaborating on the format for the matches was Khalaf’s brother Waleed, who serves as the Vice-Chairman of Sharjah Cricket Stadium. He said: “Invites will be sent out for teams to compete in five different categories: U13, U15, U17, U19 and Elite and eight teams will be invited to participate in each category.
“In the Elite division, there will be eight additional teams participating. What we are ensuring is a high standard of talent and a commitment from those who take part.”
Eisa Hilal Al Hazami, the Chairman of Sharjah Sports Council, added: “It is heartening to see that the Bukhatir family continues to create a rich and diverse legacy. Thanks to their dedication and commitment, Sharjah is firmly on the global sporting map and Sharjah Sports Council is proud to be supporting this next phase of CBFS.”