Pakistan news January 11, 2013

Ajmal helps fund cricket academy

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Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan offspinner, has started his own elite academy scheme at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad. The R70 million ($720,000 approx) multi-facility academy will be spread over 18 acres of land and will be completed in two years' time, in three phases of construction.

Ajmal has provided R10 million ($102,000 approx) of his own money to the academy, with the government and major industry promising to further contribute to its funding. The lucrative project will include an indoor and outdoor practice school, lodging facility, swimming pool and a floodlit ground.

Ajmal, speaking at the launch of the first phase, said he wanted to help develop the next generation of cricketers, in particular spinners, for Pakistan. "I have experienced tough days early in my career but with this facility nobody will have to go through a difficult time," Ajmal said. "I want to groom the enormous talent in the country without fee. I don't want the players to suffer the ordeal I did in coming to this stage."

Ajmal, 35, made a relatively late entry into international cricket, at the age of 30. He started in Tests when he was almost 32 and so far has played 23 Test matches, taking 122 wickets at 27.09. He also has 117 one-day wickets and is the highest wicket-taker in Twenty20 internationals, with 71. Ajmal said he wanted to give "youngsters an opportunity to follow in my footsteps".

Cricket may be the most popular game in Pakistan but there is a lack of modern facilities at the grassroots level. The PCB owns the national academy and regional academies around the country but they are sanctioned only for the use of national and domestic cricketers. Club cricket is the main source of new cricketers but they rely on meagre facilities.

"The idea is to find the talent and give them all the necessary to groom [their skills]," Ajmal said. "They will be paid for their livelihood and we will help develop those who have been marginalised and unable to thrive for many reasons."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • agent001 on January 14, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    Let's not forget the noble cause initiated by other great cricketers especially Imran Khan in setting up the Cancer hospital in Lahore. Well done Saeed Ajmal. Others like Wasem Akram , Waqar Younis , Maindad, Inzi and company should also come forward and repay the country which gave them the greatness. Getting paid thru IPL and serving as broadcaster only confines the riches to themselves and does not spread the wealth or the experience to the masses. Again, congratulations to Saeed Ajmal on this noble cause.

  • dummy4fb on January 13, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    Waseem Akram bhai, as much as a fan of yours I am, this is the way to repay your country. Please make an academy and teach the youngsters at all levels this art. I adore Ajmal is this respect.

  • dummy4fb on January 12, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    Saeed Ajmal, May Allah give you so much more success in life than you already have. You are a true Pakistani. showing your generosity in this manner. May Allah protect you. We all LOVE and ADORE you.

  • ahsansiddiqui15 on January 12, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    Guy never seizes to amaze me. May Allah, the people and Govt. of Pakistan help him in this very noble cause. Pakistan need a lot more people like Saeed Ajmal.

  • dummy4fb on January 12, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    That a great man can do! He progressed but didn't forget his past. Hats off you great gentleman. Other great need to learn from him. Wasim and Tendulkar espacially! Your homeland gave you the name now be responsible to return!

  • dummy4fb on January 12, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    Good work by a great cricketer. Yes a person who suffers, can feel others problems. We need not only cricketer but a cricketer with humanity. Businessmen who are greedy for money have made our indian cricketers greedy and resulted into only money oriented profession and politics even among the players.

  • dummy4fb on January 12, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    Hats off Ajaml, great gesture and novel thinking that people from poor background badly needs :)

  • Taha_Farrukh on January 12, 2013, 11:47 GMT

    Well done Saeed Ajmal....u have done what many senior cricketers unable to do.... they retire after playing 23 years in international cricket and then make agreement with broadcasters for making money but they can't spend money or make a plan to promote cricket in their own country even....well done and keep it up saeed u deserve for no 1 cricketer and no 1 as human as well.....

  • dummy4fb on January 12, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    He is the chosen one,by the almighty .Thats the end of the story.