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Monday, January 17, 2022

For Qatar cricket enthusiasts, all the world’s a pitch


All photos by Baba Tamim

When 43-year-old Indian expat Farooq gets homesick in Qatar, he heads to the beach with his family – not to swim, but to play cricket.

Speaking to Doha News over the weekend while playing a friendly match in Al Khor, the doctor said:

“Most of us here are friends from India and work for Hamad Hospital. We are playing this game and cherishing our memories from childhood.”

In Qatar, cricket doesn’t seem to get as much love as other sports. There are few official pitches in the country, and the cost of equipment can be prohibitive. But many of the nation’s cricket fans don’t mind getting creative.

Cricket weekend
Cricket weekend

In part as a way to remember home, South Asians across Qatar can be seen playing the game in makeshift parking lots and dirt roads, parks or industrial areas.

Shabir Gani from Indian-administered Kashmir told Doha News that he plays for a company cricket team, and doesn’t even let the summer slow him down.

“We mostly play community or corporate level cricket. I would love to play as a professional but I think cricket in Doha is in transition phase and lot of work needs to be done to promote domestic and international cricket.”

Other players echoed those sentiments.

Gowhar, 28, is a cab driver from Peshawar, Pakistan. He played cricket professionally, but began working as a cab driver to make ends meet and now practices the sport during his free time.

“Qatar wants all sports to be popular, but the game of professional cricket has no introduction here like we have in Asia,” he said.

How do you satisfy your cricket cravings? Thoughts?

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