The Iran senior team took part in selection trials in Chabahar in the eastern part of Iran (bordering Pakistan) in preparation for the upcoming ACC Middle East Cup.

The first pictures of any official Iranian cricket practice to be published globally, they show the reality of cricket in this part of the world.

The Trial match at Chabahar, January 12 2005

Along with financial support, the ACC has provided Iran with cricket equipment and last year ran an Umpiring course. Iqbal Sikander the ACC Development Officer for the Gulf region visited Iran in December and noted the enthusiasm of the local cricketers. “There are even lady umpires who have come through, as well as a lady coach in the wings,” he said.

Three Level I qualified lady umpires from Iran

It’s hard to call it ‘grass-roots’ cricket in Chabahar where on the two grounds granted by the government exclusively for cricket, grass has yet to be planted, but in Tehran at least, there are turf grounds, if not turf wickets.

“Iran shows a great deal of promise”, says Iqbal Sikander. “The high-level officials I met during my visit assured me that they will fully support cricket and while I was in Chabahar, in the Baluchistan province which borders Pakistan, two grounds were instantly allocated by the authorities just for cricket.”

Chabahar is a Free Trade Zone and the authorities have obviously made the grounds available with an eye to attracting closer commercial links with neighbouring Pakistan, which is all to the good. There is every chance that local sponsors will come forward to support cricket once they have more confidence in the product.

(Pictures courtesy of Kambiz Rana)

“Iran comes to cricket with a fresh eye and no little raw talent”, says Iqbal Sikander. Although as yet cricket has curiosity value, as much as anything else in Iran, “if the development of cricket is managed properly there is every reason to think that Iran could be a force at Affiliate Level within five years”.

Afghanistan, who joined the ACC in 2003 at the same time as Iran, have shown the other Affiliates what is possible when raw talent meets focussed desire. Should the individuals forming the core of Iran’s cricket truly wish to advance and receive regional and global plaudits, then they have made a positive start.

The next generation

Related Links: 2006 ACC Middle East Cup

Filed January 25 2006