Cricket continues to wrestle with contentious issue of ‘throwing’

Cricket continues to wrestle with contentious issue of ‘throwing’
South Africa's Wayne Parnell is bowled during the third one day international (ODI) cricket match between South Africa and England at Mangaung Oval in Kimberley. (File/AFP)
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Updated 03 February 2023

Cricket continues to wrestle with contentious issue of ‘throwing’

Cricket continues to wrestle with contentious issue of ‘throwing’
  • Threshold for permitted amount of elbow straightening is 15 degrees for all bowlers

There are certain elements of cricket that are considered to be unsavory or objectionable. One of them is throwing the ball instead of bowling it. A recent example occurred in South Africa, but it is by no means a new phenomenon.

Until the early 19th century, underarm bowling was the norm. Apparently, women found it difficult to navigate their long skirts using this form of delivery, with some resorting to roundarm delivery. The brother of one lady became something of a martyr in deploying the method in a match at Lord’s in 1816. This led to a new ruling, which stated that “the ball must be delivered underhand, not thrown or jerked, with the hand below the elbow at the time of delivering the ball.”

Despite the ruling, attempts to contravene it were frequent and contentious. Eventually, in 1835, roundarm bowling was legalized, deliveries allowed at shoulder height. The next battle centered on the legality of delivering the ball with the hand raised above the shoulder. In 1864, Law 10 was amended to allow this, provided the arm was straight and the ball was not thrown. Rotation or flexing of the wrist in the delivery swing was allowed.

In essence, the Law has remained the same for well over 100 years. Interpretation of whether the Law was being broken rested on the visual interpretation of an action by the umpire standing square to the striker.

No doubt, off-field discussions about the legality of an individual bowling action would have taken place prior to the call of no-ball. Several careers were ended by such calls between 1880 and 1950, after which an outbreak of illegal bowling occurred. Tougher enforcement of the Law and individual bans curbed the trend. At the time, Neville Cardus, one of cricket’s great writers, objected to throwing because it looked ugly.

Who knows what he would have made of the Sri Lankan, Muttiah Muralitharan, who claimed 800 Test wickets, the most yet. His right arm is congenitally bent and hyperextends during delivery. One Australian umpire called him for throwing in 1995, making clear that he would do so again. This is not the first time that a single umpire has taken the view that it is his responsibility to focus on a particular bowler’s action. In Muralitharan’s case, most other umpires were reluctant to call him, while the game’s administrators could not agree on his action’s legality

Most Australians seemed to be in little doubt. This was despite the availability of biomechanical testing, which showed that Muralitharan did not extend his arm any more than bowlers with actions that were considered to be legal. Indeed, the tests show that most bowlers flex and extend their arms as they rotate around the shoulder, to varying degrees.

As a result, thresholds were drawn up for the allowable amount of elbow straightening — 10 degrees for fast bowlers, 7.5 for medium pacers and five degrees for spin bowlers. Subsequent testing, based on empirical evidence in the early 2000s, provided a basis on which the tolerance threshold was raised to 15 degrees for all bowlers. Actions deemed to be illegal are usually well in excess of that level.

There have been occasions when I have been playing or watching cricket, that, instinctively, it looks as if a bowler is throwing the ball. People on either side turned to ask the question — was it a throw? It is possible that those whose bowling actions appeared suspect were well within the threshold which currently applies.

The previous Law which allowed no flexing of the arm is now proved to be draconian, condemning some high-quality bowlers to opprobrium. These days, assistance is provided to a bowler who is called for throwing. An independent review is conducted and, if the action is deemed to be illegal, remedial assistance is available. Although suspended from international cricket, the bowler is not subject to the public ordeal that was once the norm.

In January, Joburg Super Kings left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso was suspended from bowling in the SA20 cricket league after an independent panel ruled his action illegal. His team has requested that the bowler’s action be biomedically tested. Phangiso has claimed two four-wicket hauls in the tournament and played 37 white ball internationals for South Africa. He had been reported previously for having a suspect action in 2016. After remedial work, he was cleared to resume playing.

One of Pakistan’s fastest bowlers, 22-year-old Mohammad Husnain, was reported for an illegal action during the 2021-22 Australian Big Bash League. This was confirmed by tests in Lahore that showed his elbow extension to be beyond the 15-degree threshold. After remedial work, Husnain was reassessed and cleared to return to play in June. Shortly afterward, while bowling in the Hundred competition in England, he dismissed Australian Marcus Stoinis, who made a throwing motion as walked from the field. No official censure was given to Stoinis, although commentators and Pakistani supporters were left unimpressed.

It does seem that the main characteristic of the issue of illegal, thrown deliveries in cricket is its ability to recur, almost always with acrimony. It is pertinent to ask why any bowler would intentionally do so, given the detection systems now in place. Clearly, a throw travels more quickly, providing a greater opportunity to dismiss the batter. It also generates a greater threat of physical danger. More than one bowler has been rumored to slip in the occasional “throw” in attempting to realize these opportunities.

This does not explain the existence of bowlers who are assessed to be bowling illegally when they do not set out to do so. Fortunately, scientific metrics have generated tolerance thresholds by which those with certain physiological structures, which lead to bowling actions, judged visually to be illegal, can be more realistically assessed.

It ought to lead them to be judged more sympathetically, but old attitudes die hard, if Husnain’s experience is typical. The line between legal and illegal bowling is fine, the latter falling into cricket’s bete noire, that of cheating.

Gary Ballance joins rare band of cricketers who have played Test cricket for two countries

Gary Ballance joins rare band of cricketers who have played Test cricket for two countries
Updated 30 March 2023

Gary Ballance joins rare band of cricketers who have played Test cricket for two countries

Gary Ballance joins rare band of cricketers who have played Test cricket for two countries
  • Only 16 players have achieved that feat in 146 years of Test match history

On Feb. 4, 2023, Gary Ballance stepped out at Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to represent his country of birth for the first time in a Test match at the age of 33. Although there are some 70 others who have made their debuts at an older age, Balance’s story carries a difference.

He had already played Test cricket for another country, England, on 23 occasions. This makes him the 16th male cricketer to play for more than one country in the 146 years of Test match history.

Given that there have been upwards of 3,140 players who have participated in Test matches since the first one in 1877, this is a minute percentage. Only four of the 16 have occurred in the last 50 years. Prior to Ballance, the most recent was Boyd Rankin, who was born in Northern Ireland and played twice for England against Australia in 2014-15.

Beset by injuries, his opportunities for further appearances were limited and he was selected to play in Ireland’s first-ever Test in 2019 against England. This was after Ireland, representing the whole of the island, became a full ICC member.

Political circumstances disrupted the careers of South African cricketers between 1971 and 1994. John Traicos played once in 1970 against Australia. In 1991, he played for Zimbabwe at the age of 45. The gap between his two appearances is the longest in Test history. Kepler Wessels settled in Australia and qualified to appear in 24 Tests for them between 1982 and 1985. He retired in 1986 and returned to South Africa. After the country’s readmittance to international cricket in 1991, Wessels played 16 Tests between 1992 and 1994, captaining in each one, before a second retirement from Test cricket.

One player has represented both India and England, Aftikar Ali Khan Pataudi. Although he scored a century in the first Test of the controversial 1932-33 body-line series in Australia, his disapproval of the England captain’s tactics led to him being left out of the final three Tests. After declining two invitations to captain India, he finally did so in 1946 at Lords.

The creation of Pakistan by India’s partition in 1947 led to circumstances in which three players represented both countries. The first, Abdul Kardar, played in India’s first Test match at Lords in 1946. He captained Pakistan in its first Test against India in 1952, playing another 22 times until 1958. Gul Mohammad played eight times for India in 1946 and 1952. In 1955, he took Pakistani citizenship and played one Test against Australia in 1956-57. Amir Elani played once for India against Australia in 1947 and five times for Pakistan in 1952-53.

After playing in five Tests against Australia and New Zealand for the West Indies in 1951-52, Sammy Guillen emigrated to New Zealand, which selected him to play three Tests, against the West Indies. All of the other dual representations occurred between 1887 and 1910. During those years, there were no hard and fast regulations concerning registration.

Billy Midwinter was born in England in 1851, his family emigrating to Australia in 1860. He played in the inaugural test between Australia and England in 1887. He then resettled in England, playing four times against Australia, before returning to Australia for whom he played another six times, until 1887. Sadly, his subsequent personal life was tragic. Midwinter’s wife and two of his children died and he, with ailing businesses, went into an asylum, where he died, aged 39.

Switching between Australia and England was also undertaken by four other Australians of the era.

Billy Murdoch, regarded as Australia’s finest batsman between 1880 and 1884, made four tours to England, the last in 1890 after which he settled in Sussex and played for that county. In 1892, he was selected to join England’s tour of South Africa, playing in one Test. This match also witnessed the appearance of another Australian, J. J. Ferris, in English colors. He had toured England with Murdoch in 1890 and chose to settle there.

Sammy Woods, born in Australia, but schooled in England from the age of 16, developed into a fine all-round sportsman. In 1888, the visiting Australian team suffered injuries and called up Woods, who played in all three Tests. He did not play again for Australia, making his life in England for which he played three Tests against South Africa in 1896 and captained Somerset for 12 years.

Albert Trott made a sensational debut for Australia against England in 1895, averaging 102.5 with the bat. This, coupled with bowling skills, were insufficient to gain selection for the tour of England in 1896. Undeterred, Trott travelled on the same ship as the Australians, to start a fresh life in England, where he played with great success for Middlesex. At the peak of his powers, Trott was selected for England’s tour of South Africa in 1899.

During the same era, two Englishmen also played for South Africa. In 1888-89, Frank Hearne played for England in South Africa to whence he emigrated for health reasons, representing the country in 1892 against England. Frank Mitchell played for England against South Africa in 1898-99, returning there during the Boer War and afterwards as a player and captain in state cricket. His success led to him being named as captain of a South African team which played against England in 1904. South African teams were not strong when these two played against them and the matches were awarded Test status retrospectively.

It can be seen that unique sets of circumstances, either personal or political, or a combination of the two, explain these dual representations. In Ballance’s case, a new dimension was added. He admitted using racist language against his former teammate and friend, Azeem Rafiq.

His decision to leave English cricket behind for Zimbabwe accords with the ICC’s regulations, three years elapsing since his last appearance for England in 2017. Furthermore, he may avoid disciplinary sanctions imposed by England’s cricket authorities.

Nepal and the UAE taking different cricketing trajectories

Nepal and the UAE taking different cricketing trajectories
Updated 23 March 2023

Nepal and the UAE taking different cricketing trajectories

Nepal and the UAE taking different cricketing trajectories
  • A win in Kathmandu over the GCC country sees Nepal advance in World Cup qualifiers

Evidence of cricket’s deepening and widening appeal is apparent in its growth in an increasing number of countries. The game’s ability to generate occasions of high drama and tension is being witnessed in diverse locations.

Last week, this was nowhere more apparent than in Nepal, a country not normally considered a cricket playing nation in many people’s minds.

Until the 1980s, the game was a niche activity, limited to Kathmandu. A major development program, introduced in the early 1990s, boosted playing participation and facilities. This led to the first appearance of a Nepal men’s team in an international tournament, the Asia Cricket Cup, in 1996. In the same year, Nepal became an Associate member of the International Cricket Council. Steady growth in performance was rewarded with ICC T20I status in 2014 and ODI status in 2018.

This was achieved in dramatic fashion, something that has become a hallmark of Nepal’s cricketing personality.

Nepal needed to win its final match in a World Cup qualifying tournament and then hope that the Netherlands beat Hong Kong, which they did. All of this was against a backdrop of Nepal’s cricket board having been suspended by the ICC in 2016 for a breach of ICC regulation Article 2.9, which prohibits government interference and requires free and fair elections. Conditional readmittance was granted by the ICC in October 2019.

After ODI status had been secured, Nepal’s captain at the time, Paras Khadka, referred to “years and years of toil, persistence, sacrifices, commitment and hard work.” He also referred to the need to stabilize domestic structures, if ambitions to reach an ODI World Cup and even Test playing status, were to be realized. In 10 years since 2008, Nepal has risen from being in Division 5 to being within touching distance of the big players.

One factor that is not missing domestically is the level of fan support. Nepal is recognized as being the most fervently supported ICC Associate member. This fervor has spilled over on occasions. In February 2010, when Nepal looked to be losing a Division 5 match against the US, the crowd threw objects onto the field, causing an hour’s delay. This led to a revised target, which helped Nepal, who edged into Division 4 on net run rate at the expense of Singapore, who appealed. A conditional ban was imposed, with the height of stadium walls ordered to be increased. In December 2011, a similar crowd disturbance occurred in a match with the UAE, leading to a ban on hosting ICC events in 2012.

There was no ban in 2013, when Nepal hosted the Asia Cricket Cup, reaching the final, only to be beaten by Afghanistan. Crowds of between 15,000 and 20,000 were reported to have attended group stage matches, rising to 25,000 for the semifinal and final, which was free of crowd disruption.

Hundreds of thousands watched the match live on television. The explanation for such support may lie in the composition of the team, which comprises indigenous players, who have progressed through the age group ranks. It may also lie in the absence of ticketing arrangements in the past.

Although this was not the case for Nepal’s match against the UAE on March 16, 2023, it may as well have been, according to reports. The occasion was infused with expectation. It was the final match of 134 played in League 2 of the ICC 2023 ODI World Cup qualifying phase.

The outcome would finalize the third team which would progress to the next stage, one step away from playing in the World Cup in India in October and November. Scotland and Oman had finished first and second, with Namibia holding third place, one point ahead of Nepal.

In early February 2023, Nepal seemed to have little chance of making the third place, languishing in the second to bottom spot. The UAE were much better placed, but imploded in their last 10 matches, winning only three.

Surprisingly, their defeats included three by bottom team Papua New Guinea. Nepal, on the other hand, won 10 of its last 11 matches prior to the final match against the UAE, which was out of the running for third place.

Long queues formed several hours before the start of play. Later, people climbed the surrounding walls and trees, before the main gate and its defenders were breached. The Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, is one of only two grounds to host international matches in Nepal. Its capacity is 18,000 but eyewitnesses suggest that more than 25,000 gained access to the ground. They were disappointed by the UAE’s progress, which saw a huge score of 310 being posted, including the fastest century by an ODI Associate cricketer.

In response to this mammoth target, Nepal lost three wickets cheaply, before rebuilding. A rain shower tightened the nerves of spectators, as Nepal was behind in the par score at that point. They became even more tense as they witnessed the UAE’s tactics to slow the game down.

Fears of disturbance rose. Some Nepalese players pleaded with supporters to stay calm. Then, at 5:37 p.m. local time, with 44 overs bowled, the umpires decided that it was too dark for play to continue. Nepal had scored 269 for six. According to the DLS system used to calculate interruptions to play, Nepal’s target at that point was 260. Another victory had been achieved in dramatic circumstances, against old foes, who were mightily displeased.

The UAE will now join a playoff competition in Namibia between March 26 and April 5. This comprises the bottom four teams in League 2, plus Canada and Jersey, who won feeder Challenger leagues.

ODI status is at stake for the UAE, since the two highest placed teams out of the UAE, Namibia, Canada and Jersey will secure ODI status for the 2023-2027 World Cup cycle. The UAE’s leading players participated in the DP World ILT20 League in January and February.

Since then, the team’s performance has stalled badly, whereas Nepal’s star has risen.

Pakistani cricket legend sees sports growth in Saudi Arabia with optimism

Pakistani pace legend Wasim Akram speaks with Arab News in Karachi, Pakistan
Pakistani pace legend Wasim Akram speaks with Arab News in Karachi, Pakistan
Updated 19 March 2023

Pakistani cricket legend sees sports growth in Saudi Arabia with optimism

Pakistani pace legend Wasim Akram speaks with Arab News in Karachi, Pakistan
  • Wasim Akram met with head of Saudi Cricket Federation on his first visit to Riyadh
  • Former Pakistan cricket captain wants to return to the Kingdom to see the talent he didn’t get a chance to see emerging cricket talent in the Kingdom, he would like to visit again

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan cricket captain, Wasim Akram, has said he is optimistic about cricket growth in Saudi Arabia and is eager to see the sport’s talent from the Kingdom, after a visit to Riyadh last month.

Akram was in the Saudi capital for the first time in February where he met with the chairman of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation, Prince Saud bin Mishal, to discuss the future of the sport in the Kingdom. 

Chairman of Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation, Prince Saud bin Mishal, left, presents a special jersey to Pakistan cricket legend Wasim Akram in Riyadh on Feb. 2, 2023. (SACF)

His visit comes as the two countries strengthen ties in cricket, and the sport grows increasingly popular in Saudi Arabia. The Pakistan Cricket Board, which controls the South Asian nation’s domestic and national teams, earlier in January said it was ready to share sports expertise with the Gulf nation. 

In a recent interview with Arab News, Akram expressed his optimism about Saudi Arabia’s cricket growth.

“I am sure they can form a proper cricket team where they can actually beat the associate countries,” Akram said.  

“But for that they have got to have domestic regular leagues, and that too, like I said earlier, on turf pitches. That’s very important for Saudi cricket to evolve.”

Cricket matches have been organized in Saudi Arabia since the 1960s, when the game was introduced by expatriates from Pakistan and India. The sport has become more structured in the years since, and local clubs began to form.

The Kingdom became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council in 2003 and, in 2016, was promoted to associate membership.

But the game saw a real boom only recently, after the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation was established in 2020, and has since lined up a series of programs to promote the sport at home and prepare national teams to compete with the world’s best in the future.

Among the sport's leading nations is Pakistan, where cricket is the most popular sport — played, watched and loved by people across the country that for decades has been one of the top players in the ICC’s Test, ODI and Twenty20 rankings.

In January, Javed Afridi, who owns the Pakistan Super League franchise Peshawar Zalmi, announced that his team was going to play exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia.  

Akram, who is revered as a cricket legend, said he was eager to visit Saudi Arabia again to “see the talent,” adding that he was “amazed” with the country during his visit.

“The country is evolving. It has evolved so much,” he said.


YCCC racism crisis local battle with widespread implications for cricket

YCCC racism crisis local battle with widespread implications for cricket
Updated 16 March 2023

YCCC racism crisis local battle with widespread implications for cricket

YCCC racism crisis local battle with widespread implications for cricket
  • 16 months after former Yorkshire County Cricket Club player Azeem Rafiq made racism allegations, the case is finally being heard by an independent panel of the ECB’s Cricket Discipline Commission

“Vacancy: YCCC Chair” appeared rather starkly on the website of Yorkshire County Cricket Club on Feb. 10.

And behind this job advertisement lies a salutary tale with implications for cricket around the world.

It is less than 16 months ago that YCCC was engulfed in a crisis brought about by allegations of racism by one of its former players, Azeem Rafiq.

His testimony to the Parliamentary Select Committee of the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport on Nov. 16, 2021, sparked a chain of events which are still in train and unresolved.

How the matter attracted the attention of a parliamentary committee, with the hearings being live streamed nationally, lies in the procedures and governance adopted by YCCC and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the sport’s governing body.

It is understood that Rafiq made his initial complaints in 2017 to YCCC, formalizing them in 2018, a year in which his contract was not renewed.

Following the appointment of a YCCC chair with a reforming agenda in 2020, Rafiq’s issues were revealed in a media interview. This provoked the chair to appoint a law firm to conduct an independent review of the allegations.

Its report was submitted in August 2021 to YCCC. The club chose not to make it public or share it with the ECB. A summary was made available on Sept. 10 and a redacted copy to Rafiq on Oct. 13.

YCCC apologized to Rafiq, accepting that he had been the victim of “racial harassment and bullying,” but insisted there was insufficient evidence to prove or disprove institutionalized racism. An announcement in late October 2021, confirmed that no individuals would face disciplinary action.

This dead-batting was too much for those seeking to make a breakthrough.

YCCC’s chair was called to appear before the select committee, key sponsors withdrew support, the ECB suspended YCCC from hosting international matches, and YCCC’s chief executive officer resigned, as did the chair. Lord Kamlesh Patel, a member of the British House of Lords, took over a fragile situation.

Under Patel’s stewardship, significant developments occurred. On Dec. 3, 2021, 16 members of staff were removed from their posts at YCCC, including the director of cricket and head coach. This looked to be a draconian move.

The context to the move was a letter written in early October 2022 to YCCC by 14 staff members to indicate that they would not support any level of criticism or blame being attached to current members of staff. They made clear that blame should only attach to Rafiq, who they regarded as, “having a one-man mission to bring down the club.”

Furthermore, they added that Rafiq had demanded significant staff support while at the club, and “became an underperformer on the field, problematic in the dressing room, and a complete liability off the field.”

Battle lines had been drawn by those in denial of malfeasance and opposed to the types of reforms demanded by external forces.

No rapprochement with Rafiq was offered. Instead, a counterattack ensued in which Rafiq was portrayed as a troublemaker and received threats to himself and family. He now receives 24/7 security provided by the ECB.

A former Yorkshire chair, Robin Smith, has been openly critical of Patel. In March last year, he called for him to step down. This was shortly after the ECB had conditionally lifted its ban on YCCC hosting international matches, a major boost to its financial prospects.

In June, the ECB charged YCCC and seven individuals with breaching its directive 3.3. This relates to conduct which is improper, may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket, or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket, or any cricketer into disrepute. It has taken until early March of this year for the cases to be heard by an independent panel of the ECB’s Cricket Discipline Commission.

In early February, YCCC admitted liability to four amended charges, including a failure to address systemic use of racist language. One of those charged has admitted using racist language, but five others have refused to engage with the CDC, citing a lack of faith in the process. It seems extraordinary that the commission does not have the power to order attendance, although the charges will be considered in absentia.

This weakness has provided opportunities for criticism of the ECB’s overall stance, which is that YCCC’s handling of Rafiq’s case was unacceptable and causing serious damage to the game’s reputation.

Although former players have admitted to the use of a derogatory racist word in relation to Rafiq and referring to Asians as “you lot,” they believed that this constituted banter rather than racism.

During a follow-up hearing of the DCMS committee on Dec. 13, 2022, Rafiq suggested that the Yorkshire Post had carried out a “campaign to discredit and intimidate” him. This was vehemently rebuffed by the newspaper’s editors, who regarded the accusation as “scurrilous,” and noted that they had given voice to others who were voiceless, including the staff sacked by YCCC.

In early March this year, the paper reported on YCCC’s accounts for the year ended Dec. 3, 2022.

A pre-tax loss of £2.2 million ($2.6 million) was incurred, of which £1.6 million related to remaining settlement payments, legal fees, and governance costs.

YCCC’s perilous financial position jeopardizes payment of some £3 million due to be made to the Graves Family Trust later this year. Colin Graves is a former chair of both YCCC and the ECB, spanning 2002, when he rescued YCCC, to 2020. Currently, YCCC’s debt to the trusts stands at £15 million.

Patel will stand down at March’s annual general meeting, criticized for being the first chair to receive remuneration. Graves has made public his willingness to be chair, for which he wants no financial reward. No doubt, this sits well with many YCCC members, who see this as a perfect solution. Others, especially externally, see the prospect differently.

The Rafiq case has been turned into one about YCCC’s survival, rather than being a catalyst to tackle racism.

In May, in conjunction with cricket journalist, George Dobell, a book will be published about Rafiq’s experiences. It will also draw upon similar experiences of people from other walks of life, keen to have a conversation about an issue that has proved so troublesome for YCCC and its leadership.

‘Our aim is to make Saudi Arabia a global cricketing destination’: SACF chairman

‘Our aim is to make Saudi Arabia a global cricketing destination’: SACF chairman
Updated 11 March 2023

‘Our aim is to make Saudi Arabia a global cricketing destination’: SACF chairman

‘Our aim is to make Saudi Arabia a global cricketing destination’: SACF chairman
  • Prince Saud bin Mishal Al-Saud expresses joy at Kingdom’s triumph at ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation Chairman Prince Saud bin Mishal Al-Saud has expressed his delight at seeing the Kingdom’s national team win their first international trophy since the SACF’s formation in 2020.
Last Sunday, Saudi Arabia won the inaugural ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2023 in Bangkok, beating Bahrain by 10 wickets in just four overs.
The men in green maintained a perfect record of five wins from five matches in the tournament.
“It’s our first win as a federation since we were established more than two years ago, and that would’ve never happened without the endless support of our government, the Ministry of Sports, the Olympic Committee and all regional associations,” said Prince Saud in an exclusive interview with Arab News after returning from Bangkok. “They honestly made our job easier to perform and reach this point.”
When asked if a professional cricket league system in the Kingdom is on the cards, he replied: “As we know, Saudi Arabia is the biggest country in the region with the biggest number of teams and players. So there will be leagues on all levels, not just one league.
“And to answer that question precisely, we’ve developed throughout our time in the federation great relationships with the International Cricket Council, the global governing body of cricket, and the Asian Cricket Council, the organization that promotes and develops the sport of cricket in Asia, as well as some successful international cricket boards and big cricketers globally.”
High-profile figures form the world of cricket have offered their expertise and backing for cricket in the Kingdom.
“And then we hired experts to help us develop a model of a league that engages Saudi club brands along with all regional associations,” said Prince Saud.
“Of course, a lot of infrastructure and development are required, but we’ll announce when it’s time.”
Outlining his vision for the sport — including producing a competitive international team in Saudi Arabia — and his ambitions for domestic and international cricket over the coming years, he said: “Our aim is to create a sustainable industry for locals and expats living in the Kingdom and make Saudi Arabia a global cricketing destination.”
The Saudi team’s comprehensive victory in the ACC Men’s Challenger Cup in Thailand came in a 50-over one-day international competition.
The Challenger Cup is the first staging post in the ACC’s restructured three-tier pathway toward the Asia Cup 2023 to be hosted by Pakistan.
It was composed of eight teams divided into two groups, and was designed to provide increased opportunities for a larger number of its members to display their talents.
The Saudi cricket team will now play the first edition of the 2023 ACC Men’s Premier Cup in Nepal, a tournament that provides a qualification pathway toward the Asia Cup 2023 in Pakistan.