Cricket for Unity

The Asian Cricket Council and Africa Cricket Association who have come together to form Afro-Asian Cricket Cooperation, a body to promote and develop cricket across Asia and Africa, are pleased to welcome as their sole commercial partner for the Afro-Asia Cup, Nimbus Sports International of Singapore.

Mr. Syed Ashraful Huq, Chief Executive of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) says, “Nimbus made a terrific offer, well in excess of any prior media speculation, to acquire the worldwide rights to the next three Afro-Asia Cups. Not only will cricket fans the world over get the opportunity to watch some spectacular cricket between the best players from Africa and Asia, young cricketers across both continents will benefit because of the funds raised by these matches.”

70% of all net proceeds each year will go the host continent’s cricket development body, 20% to the visitors, and 10% to a recognised worthwhile charity.

Mr. Jagmohan Dalmiya, President of the ACC and Chairman of Afro-Asian Cricket Cooperation states, “The Afro-Asia Cup will do much to raise the funds necessary to boost activity and support for youth and junior cricket across Africa and Asia. Our working slogan is ‘Cricket for Unity’. Singly we are strong, together we are even stronger.”

Mr. Peter Chingoka, President of the Africa Cricket Association (ACA) said: “We would like to thank the Boards for making all their players available and the potential line-up of talent is quite remarkable.”

First, because they are deeply symbolic. They are the first time that the continents of Africa and Asia - so rich in history yet so young in the modern world, so rich in resources yet so vulnerable to natural forces, so full of heroes yet so needy of them at the same time - have come together on the sporting level to create a body which, in the words of the President of the ACC, is “dedicated to developing the game of cricket at all levels throughout the two continents. It is time we maximised our strengths and overcame our weaknesses. We are strong at the top level, but from school-age upwards it is our responsibility and opportunity to develop the game.”

A body called the Afro-Asian Cricket Cooperation has been formed just for this purpose. The glittering ODIs, and glittering they are, for no one can tell any star cricketer that a game he plays in is insignificant. They play for pride and put their reputations on stake each time they step on to the field. I have yet to meet any great batsman who enjoys being bested by Pollock, Akhtar or Muralitharan. I have yet to meet any great bowler who enjoys being smacked to the boundary by Inzamam, Jayasuriya, Sehwag, Gibbs or Kallis.

Moreover, having been in the dressing-rooms during the Melbourne Tsunami Match which did so much to inspire this kind of initiative, I can report that the cricketers not only take these games seriously, they really enjoy playing in them. They became cricketers to see just how good they could be. These matches let them test themselves against the best. These matches give them a chance to unite with perennial opponents in a whole new cause. These are matches the players themselves will never forget. They love the game even more than we do. That’s why they play it with such dedication and passion.

The Afro-Asian Cup ODIs of which there will be more next year, and the year after at least, are the apex of the movement that seeks to focus attention on the needs of the young and emerging cricketers of Africa and Asia.

U-19 tours are planned, ‘A’ Team competitions and Academy exchanges. Coaches will have more opportunities to work with the young and the resultant media splash will undoubtedly lead a large number of children to pick up bat and ball and try to emulate the best of the best on the field.

Three matches. One cause. A great result.

Cricket for Unity.

Filed July 25 2005