Cricket has had enough of preaching to the converted. We want to get new people involved and people not just interested in the game but excited about it. That’s pretty much the thrust of ACC development at present, the ICC's current campaign is for a 'Bigger, Better Global Game.' In the Middle East cricket is played and followed in large numbers by migrant communities who are inhabitants, but not citizens of, the countries they live, work go to school in.

It’s an unfortunate situation, Arab cricketers are coming through but in very small numbers. There is either ignorance or an inherent prejudice in almost all Arabs against cricket, a game played by people who are perceived to be working-class (and thus contemptible) or non-Arabs (and thus irrelevant). It’s like the 1890s in Britain all over again. Nevertheless, the Gulf countries are making efforts to create sustained development. “The children of those us who played are now playing cricket but there is no guarantee that their children will play cricket, life has changed,” a Kuwaiti resident with a Pakistani background told us.

If it’s in schools, then children can come to play and appreciate the game on its own merits. And the game can receive more legitimacy. In order to grow playing numbers and performance levels, Kuwait Cricket held a Level I ACC Coaching Program in July. Participation for the course was widely advertised in the local media and Kuwait Cricket website, “which received a tremendous response,” say Kuwait Cricket. “Due to limited space an initial list of nearly 67 applicants was filtered down. The candidates were further shortlisted to 26 final participants based on the eligibility criteria and course requirements. There was a careful and thorough review of all applicants considering fitness, knowledge and playing experience, and assurance of service to Kuwait Cricket and the game in general towards development of promising young cricket players in Kuwait. Priority was also given to school teachers who are one of the key sources of education,” adds Kuwait’s governing body for cricket. Three ladies, two of them national cricketers, were among the participants.

ACC Development Officer for Kuwait Iqbal Sikander was on hand to supervise, and the Level I Coaching Course was coordinated by KC Director for Coaching Sameer Desai assisted by former national coach Arjuna Amaratunga, Kaleem ul Hasan and women’s coach Tariq Rasool Shah at Ahmadi Cricket ground.

“Middle East countries are suffering at youth tournaments at the moment because of the ACC tournament rules which mean they must field three passport-holders. They don’t have the grounding that other countries’ players have perhaps but this is just why coaching is so important. Everyone picks up a bat and ball for the first time one day, how well they play and how much they enjoy it depends 100% on them and the environment they are brought up in. Which is why cricket in schools, good coaching in schools and a flourishing youth environment where athletes get a chance to shine is critical. I commend Kuwait Cricket for its first steps in ‘thinking outside the box’. If it continues, they will greatly benefit the country’s cricketers,” says Iqbal Sikander.

The top two candidates from this Level I course class will be put forward for the next available regional ACC Level II course. And so the circle of life goes on.

Kuwait Cricket Profile

Filed July 11th, 2012