Iqbal Sikander: Developing The Game

How did winning the World Cup push Pakistani cricket ahead?

Winning the World Cup was a tremendous validation of Pakistani cricket. Cricket has always been popular in Pakistan but the victory brought certain new things. The Board, at that time, was just happy in the team playing and not really performing but after our victory they started planning long term. They built cricket academies as well as new grounds and after the win there was no other game that could match cricket in its vast popularity.

Girls were also encouraged to take up the game. After the World Cup, sponsorship became huge and it benefited everyone involved, from the players, to the officials to the Board. The players were put in numerous advertisements and businesses prospered through cricket marketing.

With Pakistan winning the U/19 World Cup in 2006, do you see it as a sign of better things to come?

Winning the U/19 World Cup for the second time in a row is definitely a sign of improvement. Ever since the National Academy was started two years ago, the dividends have been clear. Pakistan cricket is certainly on the up and a lot of the players from the Academy will soon be in the senior team. The cricket is fed by the junior team and if you take a look at Mohammad Asif, the fast bowler, one can surely note the game is moving in the right direction. With a lot of new players coming up and with one of the best academies in Asia, Pakistan cricket has no where else to go but up.

Through the development program, how fierce is the upcoming competition for the current Test playing countries?

The competitiveness is definitely there and after four years of hard work we can all see the improvement in these countries where cricket is concerned. As of now we can say in another five years or so some of the countries in our development program will be able to rise to the challenge, competing with the Test playing countries.

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