In the middle of all-important ICC Men's T20 World Cup qualifier, the UAE team wicketkeeper-batsman Ghulam Shabber has left the country. He wasn't available for the match against Jersey on Tuesday.
The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) stated that Shabber vanished ahead of the team meeting of the players. The 33-year-old is a native Pakistani and has represented UAE in 23 One Day Internationals and 17 T20 Internationals.
The UAE team is in absolute disarray as Mohammad Naveed (former captain), Shaiman Anwar and Qadeer Ahmed are all charged under the International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption code and now Shabber's mysterious disappearance has exacerbated the crisis.
Shabber was present in the game against Oman but then didn't field in the match against Jersey - where Mohammad Boota had to do the glovework as a makeshift wicketkeeper.
The incident is akin to Zulqarnain Haider who was lost in oblivion in a match against South Africa in UAE back in 2010.
Peter Kelly, the UAE team manager clarified that Shabber wasn't under ICC Anti-Corruption Unit scanner - clearing suggestions of wicketkeeper being involved in any wrongdoing.
The ECB also shared that Shabber is safe and has travelled to Pakistan. “We do know he is OK, and he has left the country. It is out of his nature, and we are unsure why he left, and why he chose to not tell people. He was not a part of the anti-corruption investigation" Kelly was quoted as saying by The National.
The mayhem in UAE dugout has started to take its toll as the hosts lost to Jersey by 35 runs. However, the coach is still upbeat about his team chances in the qualifier and hopes that his side will keep their head in the game despite the turmoil.
“It has been frustrating for everyone, but we have managed to stay together really, really well,” Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, remarked.
The latest bizarre incident has left only 13 players in the squad, leaving not a lot of room for the team management to tinker with the combination.