UAE wicketkeeper-batsman Ghulam Shabbir has gone missing during the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup qualifier event. The UAE team, who are under already under immense pressure after four of their players have come under an ICC Anti Corruption Unit investigation, was dealt another blow just before their match against Jersey at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
According to local media reports, the wicketkeeper failed to show up for a team meeting at 11 am on Monday, ahead of their match against Hong Kong. He was also absent when the national team lost to Jersey on Tuesday, after which it was revealed that he has fled to Pakistan. However, the reasons for his move are not yet known. It is speculated that it might have to do with the ongoing corruption probe.
The UAE team manager, Peter Kelly said that Shabbir had not shown up in the team bus in the afternoon when the team left for their previous match against Hong Kong. They were concerned about his well being so they had gone out of their way to contact any next of kin that they could. They had also searched hospitals to make sure he was fine. They had also got people to go and check if he was at home but since then, they found out that he had left the country. He added that Shabber was safe and they still did not know why he left.
Last week, the side had already lost four leading players as part of a corruption probe. Mohammed Naveed, Qadeer Ahmed and Shaiman Anwar were charged last Wednesday for breaching cricket’s anti-corruption code and post their victory over Hong Kong on Monday, it was announced that Ashfaq Ahmed, the opening batsman, had also been provisionally suspended by the ECB.
With regard to Shabbir’s disappearance, an Emirates Cricket Board official said that Shabbir was not under investigation from the ICC’s ACU officials. The ECB also revealed that Shabber had been traced to his home country of Pakistan, where he is safe. The ECB said that Shabbir was safe through his disappearance and he will be investigated in the due course.
The 33-year-old Shabbir was born in Jhang, a district of the Punjab province of Pakistan and has played for the UAE in 23 ODIs and 17 T20Is. Amidst all the drama, UAE was defeated by 35 runs by Jersey on Tuesday in the qualifying competition for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.