Cricketers in Zahidan in October 2012

They never ceases to amaze, the cricketers of Iran. In the absence of what other countries take for granted: turf, artificial turf, bats, balls, pads and boxes, bottled water, let alone isotonic drinks, they nevertheless keep on playing cricket. Bigger picture, the country’s currency is collapsing, the Minister of Youth and Sport who promised his support is under Parliamentary investigation and the national Olympic Committee isn’t currently supporting cricket. And yet there is a corner of an Iranian field where cricket is played.

“You know, there are boys who are allowed to come to practice by their parents only if they sell enough fruit on the roadside,” says national coach Mahmood Rashid, “if they haven’t sold the fruit and earned the money the family need, they don’t get to play.” We may think of Iranians as wealthy and sophisticated, the vast majority of the male cricketers are anything but. Predominantly from the southern part of Iran, bordering Pakistan, they play in conditions that would make other cricketers around the world despair. “And yet they somehow produce cricketers of great spirit and no little ability. Rough around the edges but definitely full of talent and full of a great appreciation for cricket,” says ACC Development Officer for Iran Iqbal Sikander.

Mahmood Rashid watches on, Chabahar, October 2012

When a bat is something that is shared by a team, and a new ball something to be treasured, an appreciation for cricket is indeed possible. The Cricket of Association are currently stymied by a lack of funding because of internal problems and by the fact that with a country under international sanctions no money can be transferred into the country. These cricketers in Tehran, Zahidan and Chabahar probably aren’t too aware of the bigger thermo-nuclear regime-specific issues involved, they just know that cricket’s a game they want to play. And even if Iran has US$40 billion a year in oil revenue, none of that’s trickling down to the cricket fields. We trust they keep on playing, with increasing enjoyment and skill, for as long as they can. “It’s part of the reason why the ACC exists, to help cricketers in countries where they receive little or no help,” says Iqbal.

Iran Cricket Profile

Filed November 12th, 2012