Tunku Imran, 61, President of the Malaysian Cricket Association is an administrator of many parts1. A keen cricketer in his youth (and still playing at 58), he has been President of the World Squash Federation, is on the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee, was instrumental in having Malaysia host the Commonwealth Games in 1998 (where cricket was played for the first time at the event) and has been Vice-President of the ACC, and Executive Board member of both the ACC and ICC. He has also batted with the great Garry Sobers.
He spoke to us in Kuala Lumpur, the day after he was chosen as this year’s recipient of the International Cricket Council’s Lifetime Service Award.
What does winning the ICC Lifetime Achievement Award mean?
Its obviously wonderful not only for myself but for my family and all those who have been involved with me in cricket. It is a team game and the award is really the efforts of everyone put together and I just so happen to be the leader.
What is it about cricket that makes it such a special game?
Cricket is a gentleman’s game and I’ve always found that all the leaders and administrators that I’ve dealt with are true gentleman. The other great feature about the leadership of cricket is that so many of them have actually played the sport, at different levels. They all understand the sport and love it and cricket has the best values of any sport. So much of the English language is based on cricket terms.
How much cricket did you play?
I started playing in school at the age of eight and played right through my life. I last played three years ago in a charity match. I’ve also played for my school, university and for the state of Negeri Sembilan. School and university were both in England; I was in the Kings School Canterbury where David Gower also schooled although he was junior to me. I played for Nottingham University where at that time Deryck Murray of the West Indies was at the university but he preferred to play football rather than cricket back then. Cricket has always been a part of me and has been my favourite sport. I was probably better at squash where I became the national champion but cricket was far more enjoyable.
In which year were you the national squash champion?
I was the national champion in 1973.
|"Now with the ACC and ICC supporting cricket financially, things have really improved here."|
How much progress have you seen in cricket over the years you’ve been involved?
The progress has been incredible. I started in cricket administration in the 1970s and the whole world of cricket was really the Test-playing nations which at that time was only seven. South Africa and Zimbabwe were nowhere to be seen and it was a small community of countries. At that time we had the International Cricket Conference where some of the Associates were invited but there weren’t too many.
A full conference meeting would consist of only about 30 people. My first meeting was in 1980 and it was quite interesting. It was run by the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) then and it was a great insight for me sitting with all those people who were running cricket and I slowly saw it evolve into what is now the global game through the formation of the International Cricket Council. It has developed tremendously since the late 70s from 30 countries to now over a 100.
1He is also a man of many names: ‘Tunku’ means ‘Prince’ in Malaysia and as part of the Negeri Sembilan royal family his full name is Tunku Imran ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja'afar. Amongst friends he is known as Peter Imran or Tunku Pete.