KSF creates history with launch of cricket KARACHI: Cricket undertook a new nomenclature on Thursday with the launching of ‘Kriket Superstar’, a coaching-cum-TV reality programme, initiated by Karachi Sports Foundation which has invited four prominent ex-Test cricketers — Andy Roberts, Jonty Rhodes, Damien Martyn and Danny Morrison — as judges to oversee the final phase of a coaching camp here.
Under the scheme, 24 cricketers, who were picked after open trials were held by a three-man panel of former Pakistan cricketers that comprised leg-spin legend Abdul Qadir, paceman Jalaluddin and batsman Mohammad Wasim, were recruited by the KSF to talent hunt in Lahore and Karachi.
A total of 16 players — eight each from the Lahore and Karachi trials — plus another bunch of eight from Balochistan who were selected from talent hunt trials conducted by Quetta Gladiators earlier this month.
From the camp, which will be spread over six days at the Lawai Cricket Stadium in Naya Nazimabad, two young players — a batsman and a fast bowler — would be flown to the Australian city of Brisbane for specialised coaching under the guidance of former Australian captain Allan Border and opener Matthew Hayden.
Moreover, of the two cricketers one will be part of the Quetta Gladiators franchise for next year’s Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Fakhr Alam, better known as a showbiz personality, the mentor behind the programme, told a media conference that a 13-episode programme will be aired early next year.
“The concept behind reality shows in normal circumstances highlights negative aspects of life. But this will be the first-ever purely cricket-based reality programme that the viewers will get to enjoy,” Fakhr said.
“It was an idea that just came to the mind. I am extremely indebted to Danny (Morrison) when we first spoke about such an event. He not only supported the idea but also offered to help us out in making a successful venture.”
Morrison — the ex-New Zealand paceman who played from 1987 to 1997 and who now lives in Australia — in his brief introduction expressed delight to be in Pakistan after a long time.
“It is always nice to be here fellows to be among you guys. The task of picking just two players is a huge one but that is what we are all here for,” the jovial cricketer said.
“There is tremendous talent in Pakistan, no doubt about it. We know how Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were virtually picked from obscurity. I can recall how Waqar learnt the art [of fast bowling] in the desert of Sharjah.
“Definitely it appears to be an exciting project and we’re grateful for the opportunity because it sounds thrilling,” Morrison added.
Martyn told the gathering he and Rhodes were in Pakistan last year as guests of PTV Sports.
“It’s always wonderful to experience the hospitality in Pakistan. Jonty and I enjoyed it during the last visit. I played in 1998 and felt very much at ease playing in Karachi, Lahore and other places,” the Australian reminiscent.
Rhodes spoke of how he became the finest fielder of the modern era when he earned fame by spectacularly running out Inzamam-ul-Haq during the 1992 World Cup game in Brisbane.
“The key to a brilliant fieldsman is the facilities available for training. I was fortunate to get that when I was growing up.
“One doesn’t become a fielding legend overnight. It’s a natural process and it comes when you play games like hockey, tennis, squash etc to improve agility,” the South African stressed before jokingly adding, “I didn’t realised that running out Inzy [Inzamam] would make me famous so quickly. Thank you Inzy!”
But Roberts, the first of a line of legendary fast bowlers produced by the West Indies in the 1970s and 80s, expressed the hope that the 22 players who will miss out final selection should be looked by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
“I think the PCB should step forward and look after 22 players who are here in the camp and unfortunately who will be left behind when the programme ends,” the 65-year-old Roberts said.
“They [PCB] must do something about it although they are not involved in this programme.”
Roberts, who is running a fishery business back home in Antigua for many years, pointed out picking cricketers than fishing is much more difficult. “Definitely, fishing is much easier than selecting cricket players.”
Arif Habib, who heads the Arif Habib Group which in collaboration with Omar Associates and Aman Foundation is funding the programme as main sponsors, said it was the first major step taken by KSF in the field of sports.
“Basically, the idea of starting this event is to promote sports just not in Karachi but also the entire country. Our objectives are to not only provide infrastructure but also help in nurturing talent who have no place to go,” Arif observed.
“We are planning to provide facilities to support football and hockey as well.”
Numan Nabi, who heads an advertising firm, said he is proud to be engaged in this drive to make the event a success.
“Cricket is a passion for me but I have seldom seen anyone being more passionate about the sport than Arif Habib. It a collected teamwork to bring out the former stars to Pakistan which will deliver a strong message of goodwill to the rest of the world.”
Nadeem Omar, owner of Quetta Gladiators, and Aman Foundation’s Ahsan Jamil also spoke on the occasion.