RIYADH: MD RASOOLDEEN
Published — Friday 25 January 2013
Last update 25 January 2013 1:47 am
Popular Pakistani cricket star Shahid Afridi, fondly called as ‘Boom boom Afridi’ for his aggressive batting style, was received in Riyadh by cricket fans with unprecedented standing ovation that lasted for several minutes.
The cricket star was in Riyadh on Tuesday, in a talent hunt program to identify young cricketers. The event was organized by the Royal Academy of Cricket (RAC),which is a non-political, non-profit group of dedicated individuals with a mission to promoting cricket in Saudi Arabia.
Afridi emerged to international scene with a big ‘boom’ as he scored the fastest ODI century (off 37 balls) in his first international innings (second ODI match) against Sri Lanka in 1996. Along with his aggressive batting, he has established himself as one of the most effective leg-spinners in one-day cricket. He has so far amassed more than 6,500 runs and captured 300 plus wickets in one-day internationals.
Recently RAC launched a talent hunt program to spot talented young cricketers. RAC would be providing them with adequate coaching in order to groom, train and make them ready for competitive matches in Saudi Arabia and abroad.
Afridi spent a day with these budding cricketers to teach them the required skills.
Speaking to about a hundred cricket fans gathered at the AlKhozama stadium, Afridi congratulated Saudi Cricket Council (SCC) for promoting cricket in the Kingdom. He also thanked the sponsors who helped the organizers to make their venture a success.
He pointed out that there were cricketing skills here among the youth. However, due to the absence of any infrastructure facilities here, their hidden talents were not harnessed.
He appreciated the efforts of both SCC and RAC for taking up this mission of talent hunt. “This honest endeavor of yours would bear fruit,” he added. He also made an earnest appeal to all the cricket associations in the Kingdom to shed politics and work as one entity – for the cause of cricket.
“The talented cricketers should be given an opportunity on merits,” he added.
He explained that that he has a mission to build a decent hospital for the poor in his native place in memory of this father.
“I plan to accomplish this project with my own resources. However, I would welcome and appreciate if individuals or organizations would help in completing this mission,” he said.
The program began with the recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an by Salman Siddiqui, operations manager of RAC, who also anchored some segments of this event.
Professor Dr. Mujahid welcomed chief guest Afridi to the city of Riyadh. He said it was a historic and momentous occasion that Afridi met his fans in Riyadh.
Shields of appreciation were awarded to the following: Qadir Mirza, Faiz Al-Najdi, Nadeem Nadvi, Abdul Karim Khan, Mamoor Elahi, Patterson, Jaffer, Tariq Javed, and Ms. Asma Tariq, Javed Shamim, Javed Iqbal, Shahzad Alam Siddiqui, Dr. Zafar Elahi, Jawad Al-Khalifa, Javed Munawwar, Rana Abdul Rauf, Prof. Sultan Ayub Meo, Prof. Ali Al-Tuwaijri, Tariq Mehboob Mir, Aalee Al-Otaibi, Dr. Mansour Moemon and Ms. Neha Azyz.
Mujahid said the awards were given to those people who rendered services to the community in the field of cricket.