Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) interviews Mr. Aminul Islam during his recent visit to Malaysia. Aminul has worked for both ICC and ACC for the past 10 years, and recently taken the position of the Asia Regional Manager just a year ago. His thorough and unbounded knowledge for cricket has made him the cricket expert he is today. Aminul manages events, governance, ICC pathway programs, development programs and high-performance training. We decided to sit him down and chat with him about what he thinks of the cricket world in Malaysia, and how we are developing from an international perspective.

1) What does it take for an emerging country to qualify for the test series?
“Countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Omar, Nepal, Hong Kong – these countries are playing for 50-50 World cup. When they qualify for World Cup, they have to guard their place there for some time. They must have good infrastructure, lots of young players – with this, ICC will allow the country to apply for a full membership and with that membership, the country is allowed to play and participate in test matches. When countries do great in the WCL or take a lot of wins, they can go for ODI status. Malaysia is currently standing in a position where you are exactly in the middle – you can either go down really fast or go up really fast.”

2) Based on your previous answer, you do believe we possess the capabilities to become a test-playing country?
“It is not impossible. I was a part of Bangladesh cricket, I was the captain. When Bangladesh was on Malaysia’s level, I was playing with them – and now Bangladesh is an established test-playing country. Speaking from experience, where Malaysia is standing now, Malaysia has to do really well in WCL tournaments – then think about test match. Every country should devise a 10-year long strategic plan leading up to qualifying for test matches.”

3) Do different countries have different programmes, specified based on what is lacking?
“Yes. ICC offers a development programme called “support package”. This year, we are supporting Malaysia. Under the support package we are helping Malaysia organize national school championships, we are supporting the media room, and taking one coach to ICC academy for a coach education programme. We are using ICC’s name but the curriculums are those of Australian Cricket and Asian Cricket Association for the coach and umpire programmes.
We often do a profile of the country, looking at what they need or want. Like for instance, China. They are still in the process of getting to know the game, we are still introducing the basics – so we can’t execute a high-performance training programme for them, there’s no point.
Malaysia is slightly ahead of Singapore, solely because of the size of country, amount of people here, and the cricket history here. For Malaysia, these attributes are what we shape our programmes for Malaysia from.”

4) What has ICC done to shape Malaysia into a test playing country? What have they planned?
“Malaysia definitely has advantage points in becoming a test-playing country. Good facilities, geographical proximity is good - you have long days, and you have good affiliations with all the Asia test playing countries. It all depends on when Malaysia wants the status.”

5) It’s one thing to draw out the plan, and executing it is another. Are there any strategies used to ensure that these plans are properly executed, with expected results?
“ICC is beginning a new project this year, the “growth strategy”. The growth strategy focuses on introducing cricket to more people. ICC looks to create awareness among the younger generation and to get a 50% raise in women/girls joining the cricket community. Other than that, ICC’s growth strategy is to provide access to the game. Not having the equipment of facilities shouldn’t stop young kids from playing cricket. They can play at a small field use plastic equipment. Tournaments can be organized, and it can be any format – 10 overs, 15 overs. To get them familiarized with the game.”

6) What about MCA, what can MCA do to improve?
“MCA is a very strong member of ICC - today and many years to come. MCA has capabilities of becoming better. I’ve seen how much MCA has grown in the past 5 years. Regardless of your national team’s performance, a successful association is based on the overall development, the relationship with the government - and it looks like MCA is heading towards a good direction. Especially with your team consisting of 100% locals.
What MCA can do to further improve, is to become the cricket hub for all. Malaysia is located at a very strategic location – in a few hours you can reach India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia – the major cricket countries. Korea once came for training, Vietnam came for training, Maldives came for friendlies. They can provide MCA the support MCA needs, and MCA can be their cricket hub - geographically and as cricket experts as well.”

7) What could have been a contributing factor to our team’s fall in divisions in Uganda?
“The Uganda tournament was very neck-to-neck, it was one of the toughest tournaments I have been to. Yes, they relegated from division three to division four, but it was just a matter of time – it happens. It could happen to any top team. Malaysia should now move forward and look at high performance training. We have to remember that cricket cannot develop with one pillar. Cricket needs media, marketing, coaching, etc. So, it is very important that Malaysia executes their strategic plan well.”

Filed September 3rd, 2017