Sharjah - Ali Anwar Jafri has a cricket bat with him for the last 33 years that he preserves as a treasure at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

It is King Viv Richards’ personal bat that was gifted to him during Richards’ first visit to play at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in November 1985.

Jafri, who is the joint secretary of the Sharjah Cricket Council, has been part of the stadium since it was built in the 1980s. He approached Richards, who had played knocks of 51 against Pakistan and an unbeaten 24 against India in the Rothmans Sharjah Cup in November 1985. After the knock against India that helped West Indies beat India by eight wickets to lift the Rothmans Cup, Richard returned to the pavilion in his usual swagger.

Jafri approached Richards for a memento and the King surprised him by gifting the bat with his autograph. Richards’ autograph began to fade after 20 years, so when he visited UAE in 2016, Jafri got it autographed again. Richards is now here as the mentor of the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League. During the Quetta match, Jafri took the bat to Richards.

“Jafri is a friend who I know for years. He used to be in charge of making sure we were comfortable when we came to play the Cricketers Benefit Fund Series,” said Richards and posed with Jafri for a snap.

“To have the bat of the greatest batsman in the world is very special to me. I have kept it as good as it was when he gave it to me,” said Jafri.

Richards had played eight One-day matches in this ground with his highest of 62 against India in the Champions Trophy on November 30, 1986. The only knock he failed was in his last innings here in 1989 against India when he got run out for 5.

Speaking to Gulf News, Richards once remarked of his first impression on cricket in Sharjah. “When we heard about having to play cricket in the UAE we all wondered how we would play cricket in a desert. When we came here, I was thoroughly impressed to see a magnificent stadium in Sharjah. I remember seeing Abdul Rehman Bukhatir, the man who was instrumental in bringing cricket to Sharjah by building such a facility, there.”

Richards’ towering sixes that he hit here still lives in the memory of everyone especially the two sixes he hit during his unbeaten 24 off just 12 balls along with two boundaries against India before handing over the bat to Jafri.