UAE on the path of Expansion

Abu Dhabi (UAE) is set to become the next stop over on the international cricket circuit when it hosts a million-dollar tournament sometimes at the end of the year 2001.

The construction of 20,000 seater Sheikh Zaid cricket stadium costing 15 million dollars is likely to be completed by September next year after which the UAE's capital city will be ready to stage the cricket matches. Abu Dhabi will thus become the second venue in the region to host limited over tournaments to cater mainly for the large Asian expatriate population.

Sharjah, which began the trend in 1984, has become one of the most popular cricket centers of the world by hosting 159 one-day internationals. Efforts are also underway to build a stadium at Dubai, the principal center of commerce and industry in the UAE. With three stadiums of international standards, UAE will soon come in line with some major cricket playing countries.

Not only that such expansion will meet the ICC's requirement of creating more and more cricket centers, it will also enable a bigger chunk of UAE's population to enjoy live cricket. As for the holding of international matches at the new centers, the best would be to distribute the matches of Sharjah tournaments between the three centers. This will provide new impetus to cricket in the UAE.

CBFS Beneficiaries

Since its inception, the Cricketers Benefit Fund Society in Sharjah (CBFS) has been involved in the noble cause of awarding financial benefits to former as well as current cricketers. These benefits are generally offered to players from Pakistan and India, the two countries with whose close cooperation, Sharjah was established as a cricket center.

Mahboob Shah, one of the most respected and senior test Umpires, who also remained on the ICC panel of umpires for many years, has requested, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board to consider nominating umpires also for the CBFS beneficiaries scheme, which at present is only reserved for cricketers.

The proposal is absolutely legitimate because umpires being an important part of the game, those who have rendered meritorious service to the game must be financially rewarded. I would go a step further in suggesting that the cricket officials and administrators who spend a life time in service of the game off the field should also be included in the scheme. Players of the present era make tons of money from match fees, sponsorship, advertising, modeling, honor and awards and many other sources. In contrast the Umpires, Officials, Coaches and others, who help the players in turning into super stars, are either low paid or work on honorary basis. On the basis of their contribution to the game, they must also be financially rewarded. The first priority should go to the officials who assisted in the setting up of Sharjah as a cricket center and the umpires who have supervised matches over there.

Pakistan's cricket structure

For many years, Pakistan's former captain Imran Khan has been shouting at the top of his voice that "Pakistan cricket has no structure." Though the cricket board changed every three years no body gave importance to what he said simply because his views were not based on reality. It was simply a rhetoric to project himself and to down grade all those who handled the cricket affair.

After years of dubious campaigning he atlast found a like minded person in Lt. Gen. Tauqir Zia, the present Chairman of the PCB Adhoc Committee. Deeply impressed by Imran's ideas the General has started following him not considering whether his proposals are beneficial for cricket or disastrous. Under the garb of providing a "new structure to Pakistan's cricket", the PCB's constitution is being revised, toppling the existing structure upside down. It may be remembered that the present structure made Pakistan win a World Cup, emerging as runner's up in the other, winning almost every major tournament in the world and producing the amount of talent that has become a problem for the PCB to handle. Whether Imran Khan liked it or not is a different matter.

The draft of the new constitution was ready for submission to the Government, when as an eye wash the PCB called a meeting of the defunct cricket association to elicit their views on the subject. As per the news, twenty-one representatives from various cricket associations from the country tabled useful suggestions for proposed changes in the PCB constitution. Neither the contents of new constitution nor the suggestions were notified but the chairman PCB assured the meeting, that "the changes if any would be implemented duly with the consultation of all the representatives of the associations."

It may be noted that the cricket associations were disaffiliated from the Board when PCB Adhoc committee was appointed a year ago and have not yet been restored.

New stadium for Hyderabad

After a visit to Hyderabad, Chairman PCB Lt. Gen. Tauqir Zia announced that there is a proposal for the construction of a new stadium, because the old one was not in a fit state to hold the international matches.

It may be noted, that Hyderabad had been a regular match center since cricket started in the region. Its ground suffered from the chronic problem of water logging and salinity. During my tenure as Secretary of the Pakistan Cricket Board, when we were planning the staging of World Cup 87 in Pakistan, the problem was solved by installing special pumps to suck the saline water from underneath the ground. The World Cup match was successfully held at Hyderabad.

The system having not been properly maintained and looked after, appears to have caused further damage to the stadium. The PCB should help the local association to find a remedy.

In case the construction of a new stadium is inescapable, the project should be implemented by the Provincial Government or the Civil administration of the division and not the PCB.

Inzamam-ul-Haq fined for dissent

Pakistan vice Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was fined 50 percent of his match fee by Match Referee Peter Burge, for showing dissent after being adjudged caught behind in the 3rd Test at Antigua.

The action of the match referee caused lot of resentment among the cricket lovers in Pakistan. They feel that just "standing at the crease for a moment and walking to the dressing room at a snail's" pace should not constitute "dissent." A player, who becomes the victim of an umpire's wrong decision, will naturally show some reaction. They feel that umpires should also be subjected to such stringent laws.

Wasim Akram declines commentary offer

Pakistan's former captain and leading pace bowler Wasim Akram has finally declined the offer made to him by British Station Channel-4 Television for commentary on the West Indies - England series during the present summer. Though the offer was in doubt ever since he was named in Justice Mohammad Qayum's report on match fixing, Wasim Akram states that he has declined the offer to continue playing for Pakistan in pursuance of his cricket career.

There is a common thought that the active players should not be entrusted with commentary on TV or radio. Secondly a player of Wasim Akram's stature who is close to 400 wickets mark in test cricket with the possible march towards the world record, should not distract himself from the game.