RIYADH: Indian cricket legend Irfan Pathan has lauded the rapid progress of the game in Saudi Arabia after meeting with the Kingdom’s top officials.
In a meeting in Jeddah with Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation (SACF) Prince Saud bin Mishal, the former allrounder discussed the progress and development of the sport in Saudi Arabia.
The SACF on Sunday tweeted: “Prince Saud together with SACF Executive Director Tariq Sagga received the retired legendary Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan and presented him with an inscribed cricket bat in honor of his visit.
“Pathan expressed his happiness at the rapid progress of his sport in Saudi Arabia and the many steps the federation is taking to expand its appeal and involvement — especially among female and youth players, both boys and girls,” the SACF added.
Hailing from Baroda, a city in western Indian state of Gujarat, Pathan was considered India’s next best allrounder after Kapil Dev during his playing days.
Pathan, who made his Team India debut at the age of 19 in 2003, announced his retirement from professional cricket in January 2020.
He played 29 Tests, 120 One-Day Internationals and and 24 T20s for India, and was part of the Indian team that won the T20 World Cup in 2007. He was given the man of the match award for his performance in the final.
The SACF said that there was a “firm and positive agreement” about the future of cricket in the Kingdom, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Sports and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 initiative, which seeks to make sport a part of everyday life in the Kingdom.
Under Vision 2030’s Quality of Life program, the SACF, supported by the Ministry of Sports and Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, is mandated to increase physical activity levels by 40 percent over the next decade.
Cricket has taken major strides in the Kingdom in recent years, with the game’s ruling body introducing a series of programs to encourage the nation’s youth to take up one of the world’s oldest and most popular sports.