Bringing youth into cricketing mainstream

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Good news is that Lahore Qalandars during its talent hunt campaign have spotted yet another talent from Muzaffarabad, a 13 year old little cricketer who is able to bowl both right and left hands equally well. The ambidextrous bowler, Hammad Baig is a student of grade seven. Baig one among the aspiring Qalandars appeared at the open trials in Muzaffarabad on Thursday wherein the Chief Selector National cricket Team and batting legend Inzama-ul-Haq saw him bowling in the nets. Baig is the second ambidextrous bowler to be spotted by Lahore Qalandars, after Yasir Jan was picked by the franchise during the first edition of their widely acclaimed players development programme.

Last year 22-year-old Salman Irshad from Rawalakot was named in Lahore Qalandars squad for PSL 3. He caught the eye of Qalandars management during the Rising Stars trials in AJK with his consistent bowling at over 140kmph speed, and was picked for Lahore Qalandars’ Rising Stars squad that travelled to Australia for a quadrangular tournament, where his performance was so impressive that an Australian cricket club Hawksberry CC signed him for remainder of the season.

It is indeed a laudable initiative that will go a long way in discovering the hidden talent amongst the aspiring cricketers but such kind of an initiative needs a full support and patronage of the regional government. Discovering young talent is not simply enough but to brush up the talent and mainstreaming it through a proper policy and plan is the main objective that could not be achieved without the institutionalization and integration of sports in the State. The youth of AJK has immense potential; all that they need is proper guidance, coaching and exposure. No doubt that recently held events (Cricket trials) arranged by Lahore Qalandars in collaboration with other stakeholders in AJK have opened up new vistas of opportunities for inspiring cricketers to show up their talent by playing alongside their cherished stars of Pakistan cricket but it is time that the government of Azad Kashmir should seize this opportunity and provide youth of the region a solid platform whereby they could be able to exhibit their talent to the world. Concerted efforts are needed to promote a culture of sports by improving and building new sports facilities at district headquarters. More importantly the government should encourage holding of such Sport events in future, which will hopefully play a significant role in discovering the AJK youths’ talent and bringing them into the cricketing mainstream of Pakistan.

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