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Grassroot cricket

Ali Abbas

The writer is a mass communication student at Karachi University.

The line-up at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the corporate body which governs cricket in Pakistan, has been changed. After some days of thought, Prime Minister Imran Khan, who acts as patron of the PCB, has replaced Ehsan Mani with former Pakistan captain and current commentator, Ramiz Raja.

This essentially seems to focus on the issue of reviving grassroots cricket, notably at the club level, and it is believed that Ramiz would be able to do a better job on this given his own experience in domestic cricket and at the top level for the Pakistan cricket team.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken an important step towards promoting cricket at grassroots level by approving a framework for promotion of school and domestic cricket. Certainly this will be a sort of encouragement for the young lot to project their talent and become future cricketers.

Even though we all admit that cricket is like religion in this country and it’s a passion like nothing else, we lack the infrastructure and the grass-root development to ensure that anyone who has a love for the game will get easy access to facilities as well.   Grassroots development is the fundamental step in building a strong sporting community in the country.

Generally, in any of the sports including cricket, if a child is made to start early, the result will be conducive in most of the cases. However, Pakistan sports infrastructure is not at the level of countries like the Australia, New Zealand, England and so forth.

And this difference in infrastructure has created a huge gap between us and our international counterparts, in terms of sports. This fact should clearly explain the value of a start at younger age, which is not as commonly practised as it should be in our country.

There are a lot of talented players across the coutry, who fail to catch the limelight because their talents were not refined at a young age. The reason being, either there was no training facility available near them or they did not have a suitable financial condition to go there.

To a large extent, cricket at the lower levels in Pakistan has broken down, with the corporate structure holding it up at the top. Pakistan also ends up being faced with a shortage of talent too. The talent is there but our biased board or the partisan selection committee often fails to see it and keeps on selecting the same old faces who have been weighed, who have been measured and who have been, repeatedly, found wanting.

Unfortunately, over the past 70 years that Pakistan has been playing cricket, we have failed to do away with any of the teething problems. It is important that we should strengthen cricket at club, school, college and university level to unearth fresh talent rather than blindly going about altering the current domestic structure.