SULTAN RANA: MOVING ON

After your three years as Development Manager, what is left for your successor to do?

Just over a year ago, there was the DLF Tri-nation series in Malaysia. I requested the Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) in writing that it was a good opportunity to bring schoolchildren to the grounds. Even at the U19 World Cup held here recently there were a few uniformed boys who were watching and I was really pleased to see this but there could’ve been more. Even if they get bored after a while, maybe you can generate interest in five out of fifty of them and it is still a plus.

The Secretariat Development Team

Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan was a plus for cricket. This is because the Afghani’s took refuge in Pakistan and it is in these refugee camps where they were born and grew up and it is also where they picked up the game. They have a huge advantage of having Pakistan next door and they can just cross over into Peshawar and learn and play cricket there. The Afghan boys who are in their twenties now may not have been born with cricket in their blood but were largely exposed to the game.

In countries like Brunei the local’s interest in the game is not as extensive as football. And because of this to be able to generate interest one needs to shift from the mainstream. With proper training and coaching I am sure they will come up in time because there are boys in Brunei who have an interest for the game. It also depends on the person who is in charge of promoting the sport; he has to be someone who needs to be vigilant and pumped up to push the game to the locals.

It is very important to have talent to grow in this game and we’ve been trying to help these countries with talent available but internal problems hinder the cause. With things like school holidays and parents not agreeing to let their children play the game extensively for the whole day, there is not much left for the ACC to help out with and there has to be some cooperation coming from the opposite side. The parents and associations must have interest in promoting the game and the ACC is always there with financial support. The ACC has sent very good coaches to these countries and there should be no reason as to why they shouldn’t develop the game swiftly and it ultimately comes down to the association as to how best they utilize the facilities and support provided.

China has been getting full support from the association as well as the parents, to immerse the children into the sport and this is very encouraging. With such a huge population, they excel and have proven their sporting prowess, talent and their hunger to succeed in other sports and in the past three years they have formed teams and are competing internationally. Irrespective of them winning or losing, China is an example of true development - bringing a game to people who had no idea of it. It is a great attitude that they have and now thousands of people are picking up the game. It is a huge plus for the ACC and one of our greatest achievements so far is getting cricket to feature in the upcoming Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010. This can change the entire atmosphere of cricket in Asia because most of the governments will support the sports played in the Asian Games or are a part of the Olympics and they will spend a lot of money on winning medals.

With Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Dr. Nasim Ashraf

Now if it catches the interest of the people who watch the game on television, this is going to be huge, not just revenue-wise but in years to come we will have good cricketers coming from China and competing at the highest level. I have watched the team play on a number of occasions and I noticed that they have picked up things about the game quicker than any other team. They are also very determined and focused and have an attitude of never giving up.

China, being the hosts of the 2010 games, doesn’t have to climb the qualification ladder. The main focus has to be on the team and to prepare them. They will play a qualifier round in 2009 and immediately after that tournament the ACC will know where they stand and how to better their skills and see how they match against the Test playing nations. They may not win against any Test side because the level of competition is so high but if they can put up a resistance and bat out all their overs, it is good enough for both the ICC and ACC. Both the ICC and ACC are looking at China as an investment as well. If the Chinese take up the game officially there will be a significant financial boost for the world of cricket.

I am confident our members can represent us at the upcoming World Cup. The last one saw UAE have a little bad luck in the game against Bermuda where they lost. Both UAE and Oman have qualified for the ICC Trophy and there are four more teams who are playing in the World Cricket League. I have high hopes for Afghanistan and hope they can be there in the ICC Trophy. Nepal and Singapore too are good sides but I feel Afghanistan would be the team to pull off a few shocks.

The ACC can take some credit for these qualifiers. We are a big financial support; we provide them expertise and give them whatever assistance is required. We help guide them how to go about handling pressure and how to get on top of hard situations and this is all done by the advice given by top class Development Officers who have played at the highest level. ACC can also muster support from the Test playing nations and we have sent countries like Afghanistan over to Pakistan to play a more competitive level of cricket and at the same time Singapore has gone to India for training.

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