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Two years ago, former Pakistan fast bowler Aaqib Javed signed on as coach of the United Arab Emirates, a move prompted by the lack of opportunities in Pakistan and the demands of his family. In an interview to Wisden India, Javed shares his early memories of working with the team.
"All the players gave excuses. They said they couldn't train, they had jobs … I requested them to give three months to me, and after that, if they chose, they could leave," says Aaqib, his eyes smiling. "In three months, two of the fat guys had lost 25 kilos each and the others had also lost weight. They complained, but they were buying new clothes. When you train hard, you get mentally tough also. You are willing to work hard. They were feeling good."
At that stage, the team had just a one-member support staff - Aaqib. Over time, Aaqib has acquired assistant coaches, trainers, the usual group of people that a modern-day coach has around him at the top level. "I got tired, yaar," he says. "We got trainers, but I had to train them too! I needed a pool of players and even that I had to go and find. That's how it is. The administrators here are also part-timers. Things are improving now, but two years back, it wasn't so serious. But there was a desire to have a good team, which we have now."
Claire Stewart, in the Sydney Morning Herald, details her journey exploring what cricket meant in Afghanistan. She learns the passion it brings forth, with the President said to have called the Afghanistan team the new national army. Support for the women's game, though, is less forthcoming under present conditions and wandering to the stadium without company is unsafe for the same reason. Still with Mohammad Nabi's men, beating a Test nation in their first Asia Cup and qualifying for the World Cup in 2015, cricket is seen as more than an a mere sport.
The only external cricket representative not to let security concerns keep him from visiting the ACB in Kabul during the past 12 years is former Pakistani player, and now ACC representative, Iqbal Sikander. He sits in Murad's office discussing the economic viability of different equipment providers while recounting tales of his time in Australia as part of Pakistan's victory in the 1992 World Cup. "Our only objective is that we want cricket bats in the hands of the youngsters instead of guns," says Sikander. "We want them to stay away from drugs and trouble."
Bangladesh's preference for glory has irked Quazi Zulquarnain Islam, who in Dhaka Tribune, voices his displeasure at Shakib Al Hasan refusing an obvious single to trounce Nepal with a resounding six in their World T20 encounter.
For metaphor's sake, Shakib refusing the single to win the match when the opportunity presented itself is the footballing equivalent of a team intentionally spurning a goal-scoring opportunity because the opponent is already well-beaten. It showcases neither flair, nor cheek, but a lack of professional ethics when playing the game. As professionals you are required to take every single opportunity that comes your way and do so to the best of your ability; imagine if Cristiano Ronaldo passed up the chance to score tap-ins against Granada because he wanted to score belters instead. An act as brazen as this shows a distinct lack of respect towards your opponents.
Ireland versus England is never short of interest and Malahide could not have hoped for a better introduction to the world stage. Home captain William Porterfield struck a century to ignite hopes of another famous upset. But his opposite number and fellow Irishman, Eoin Morgan's skill at controlling the chase fetched him a ton and England the victory. Despite the loss, Sport for business believes the game provided an occasion for the fans, journalists, people in political office and from industry to realise the market for cricket in Ireland.
The best estimate of the financial exposure taken on to build a 10,000 seater temporary but international standard arena was between €375,000 and €400,000. When the final financial calculations are done they will likely show that a small cash profit was made. In straitened times that is important but the real and invaluable benefit lies in the establishment of the sport in the public eye as a serious endeavour, with the scope for young players to advance, and as a medium for corporate investment that delivers a return.