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Sports enthusiasts spoilt for choice
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The cricket nets at the Rugby Club provide a popular training spot for many would-be fast bowlers, but a great deal of the real cricket action takes place in the outfield of Bahrain’s abundant empty lots. From Sanabis to Sitra and Manama to Muharraq, the ‘thwack’ of leather on willow resonates around the surrounding buildings as the pride of the resident Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan cricketing fraternity take each other on. Most of the country’s better cricket pitches are to be found in Riffa, in the desert area just below the Riffa escarpment.

Cricket leagues flourish and the standard is very high, with several players having played at a senior level in India. Matches between clubs such as the Bahrain Cricket Club and the Indian Cricket Club, for example, attract a high spectator turnout. The Bahrain Cricket Association (tel 9633298) can tell you more.

If you’re on holiday and would like to join a friendly game you could always try the Awali Cricket Club which plays at the 65-year-old Awali Oval. Social games take place there on Thursday afternoons and there’s even tea in the pavilion. The phone number for the club is 17756959.

Cricket is not a game with a great following among Bahrainis – but soccer is an entirely different matter. This is perhaps the most popular sport in the Middle East and almost a national obsession, with every village sporting a pair of goal posts at either end of a sandy football pitch. Bahrain’s youths turn out in force for sundown kick-arounds and many have gone on to play for their local club. There are 26 football clubs in the country, 18 of them in the premier league.

Call the Bahrain Football Association (17685775 – Ebrahim after 4pm) for information on upcoming matches.