LAHORE-Lahore Regional Cricket Association (LRCA) President Khawaja Nadeem Ahmad has expressed his satisfaction at witnessing cricket venues bustling with domestic cricket matches and hoped that domestic cricket in Pakistan will once again thrive and produce international cricket stars.
In an interview with The Nation, Khawaja Nadeem reflected on the state of domestic cricket in Pakistan. He noted that prior to the tenure of former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani, domestic and club cricket had reached its zenith. However, the introduction of a new cricket structure had dealt a severe blow to domestic cricket, leaving many club and regional players in dire straits, with some resorting to selling fruits and vegetables or taking up menial jobs to make ends meet.
The LRCA Chief said, “The dark era has come to an end, thanks to the efforts of former PCB Chairman Najam Sethi and the current PCB Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf. They have played pivotal roles in revitalizing club and domestic cricket. With the continued support of the PCB and sponsors, domestic cricket is poised to return to its former glory.”
When asked about strategies to strengthen and enhance the competitiveness of domestic cricket, Khawaja Nadeem highlighted the significance of central contracts for domestic cricketers. He emphasized that these contracts would not only provide players with year-round financial stability but also offer substantial match fees, including Rs 8,000 for the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and a daily allowance of Rs 5,000.
Elaborating on his vision to revolutionize club and domestic cricket, he revealed plans to engage club and zonal players in year-round cricket tournaments. Each zone would form four teams, and matches would be organized. Outstanding performers would be promoted to higher levels, ensuring the discovery of exceptional talent for the first-class season. This approach aimed to elevate the standard of competitive cricket and provide opportunities for talented players to secure positions in first-class teams.
In addition, Kh Nadeem pledged to focus on nurturing young talent by emphasizing U-19 and U-16 cricket. Multiple U-19 and U-16 tournaments would be conducted at the zonal level, with the most promising talent subsequently receiving training and grooming from professional coaches at High-Performance Centers, which will be established soon in collaboration with the Sports Board Punjab, and sponsors would be sought to facilitate the smooth execution of these competitive events.
Expressing his concern about the shortage of quality spinners and fast bowlers in Pakistan, the LRCA chief attributed this gap to past administrative inefficiencies. He outlined plans to address this issue by identifying promising spinners and pacers through zonal tournaments. These talents would then undergo intensive training at High-Performance Centers.
Kh Nadeem said his overarching goal is the revival of cricket infrastructure and domestic cricket. He emphasized a commitment to maintaining cricket grounds, enhancing the standard of club and domestic cricket, and nurturing high-caliber cricketers who could bring international glory to Pakistan. The LRCA Chief concluded by expressing his belief that their efforts would contribute to the country’s cricketing success on the global stage.