“There’s nothing there except an incredible passion for cricket,” says ACC Development Officer Iqbal Sikander of Chabahar province in Iran. “There are children without shoes, without proper equipment and they’re still playing.”

As far away from Tehran as you can get, with no mineral resources to sustain it, Chabahar province has cricket because “it’s in the genes, they are Balochis like the people across the border in Pakistan,” says Iqbal Sikander. There has been some support offered by the Iran Cricket Association and the local municipality but the cricket there is played in the way that grass that somehow cracks through concrete finds a way to survives. “It’s difficult and hats off to them for doing what they do there but their commitment is matched by those in Nikshahr who walk across mountains into one single area of flat land where they play cricket. They have to carry their kit for 30 minutes and water coolers too and they play even in 45 degree heat in summer, with no shade for anyone to even sit under,” says Iqbal Sikander who has witnessed conditions at first hand on his ACC assignments in Iran.

Action from an U-13 Norooz Cricket Festival

Out of this have emerged some cricketers, the Iranian U-16s reached the Final last year’s ACC Challenge tournament and this year have a chance of repeating their performance in the U-19 Challenge in Malaysia in July. Former Pakistan first-class cricketer Mahmood Rashid is the national coach and he is confident that Iran’s cricketers have sufficient ability to advance. “What they need is more help from the authorities in Tehran, there’s no doubt that Iran could be a good side if everything comes together for them.”

Sufficient nourishment for those who play cricket with such passion would indeed do wonders. One is humbled by these young players’ passion for the game.

Iran Cricket Profile
Cricket, Somehow, Iran

Filed March 31st, 2011