HUNT FOR CRICKET TALENT

KANWAL SALEEM, Lahore
Sep 10 - 16, 2007

Under Youth Development Programme of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the countrywide 'Hunt Future Cricket Heroes' programme sponsored by the Mobilink has been launched. Mobilink organised a special function in Lahore to mark the launching of nationwide Talent Hunt programme. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf was the chief guest while Zouhair A. Khaliq, President and CEO Mobilink and Imran Aslam, President Geo Network addressed the gathering which was attended by former test cricketers and PCB officials in a large number. Addressing the ceremony, PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf announced bonuses of US dollars 100,000, 50,000 and 25,000 for the cricketers falling in category A, B and C provided they sign a contract with the Board. He saluted all the Pakistani cricketers who despite lucrative offers by the Indian Cricket League (ICL) refused to play for them. Talking about the program for the Hunt for Future Cricket Heroes of Pakistan, he said it is aimed at searching for genuine talented cricketers playing in an unstructured environment of Pakistan streets. Talented players of Under-16 age group will be short-listed and later they will be nurtured in the National Cricket Academy. 'There will be Under-16 team of every region where trainer, physio and coaches will be available', he added. Dr Nasim Ashraf announced that 100 cricket grounds would be constructed in different districts of the country in the next three years. PCB had taken control of Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium while Hyderabad Cricket Stadium will be made of international standard, he said, adding that all the 11 regions would have Cricket Academies of International Standard where state-of-the-art facilities would be available.

To a question, he said the doors of PCB are open for all those players who had not so far sign contract with the Board. About Mohammad Yousaf he said he would try to convince him to only play for the country and abstain from playing the ICL. Appreciating the support of Mobilink for 'Hunt Future Cricket Heroes' programme, Dr Nasim Ashraf said: "Cricket as we all know is engrained in our lives and therefore, we would like to discover and nurture the finest talents from the cricket fields of the country without any prejudice. I would like to thank Mobilink for their support and involvement. This is the first time the PCB will be reaching out to the rural areas of Pakistan directly in search of potential talented cricketers; the most important element of the 'vision' of this PCB Management, through its Game Development program. It is with the help of Mobilink that we have been able to launch such an extensive level program. The hunt will reach out to the people countrywide and every single Pakistani, no matter where they live, poor or rich, will be able to get a chance of making it to the cricket team based solely on talent." Commenting on the countrywide launch of the program, Zouhair A. Khaliq, President and CEO, Mobilink said: "Cricket is the game of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and we understand how important and how close the game is to every Pakistani's heart throughout the country. Being the official mobile phone Service Company of Pakistan Cricket, it was our promise to create a nationwide talent and outreach program that coutd one-day change the lives of ordinary young men to become heroes of tomorrow. This massive activation would benefit potential talent from every nook and comer of the country reshaping lives for the well deserving youth while promoting the game at all levels." Imran Aslam, President Geo Network said, "It is great to be part of this alliance, cricket is a game which is loved by all Pakistanis and promoting it in a way that will reach people in all parts of the country is not just a big responsibility but a commitment on the part of our three organizations; we look forward to the success of this venture." According to the format of the scheme, open trials will be held simultaneously in all the 4 provinces at one time, spread over ten days; two day trials followed by five days of coaching of the short listed players. The short listed players would then be given a chance to play three one-day matches to prove their talent and get selected in the final fifteen of each of their respective regions, to be selected by regional selection committee. The hunt will start from the first week of September and will continue till Jan 2008. The main aim of this program is to bring in talented players for the U-16 team of Pakistan who will then be trained over the years and seasoned to join the National team of Pakistan. The Mobilink "Hunt for Future Cricket Heroes' program will be directly channeled to the Pakistan U 17 team, making pathway for them to the U-19 World Cup in 2010 and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.