A lengthy camel ride from Dubai stands an old cricket stadium, unloved and for a long time in the Noughties unused. The Sharjah Cricket Stadium was once a hub for itinerant international cricketers, 167 one-day internationals being played there between 1984 and 2000, but these days it hosts just the occasional Test and Afghanistan’s ‘home’ matches. It has become something of a pariah.
Certainly, Pakistan and England were unwilling to play there this time, preferring instead Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The reason? Sharjah is a tainted ground: by common consent, it was here that match fixing became a real problem, in tournaments that were unregulated and far from prying eyes. Many of the early games were in what were aptly titled the Cricketers’ Benefit Fund Series and after the spot-fixing Test of 2010 it was felt that Sharjah would be an inappropriate venue…….