LAHORE: Lahore Qalandars who have become the first to start an online talent hunt programme, have taken another big step forward to help the needy cricketers, umpires, referees, scorers and groundsmen who are unable to make ends meet due to the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak affects.
Qalandars head coach Aaqib Javed, while addressing a press conference here to announce the details of the online talent hunt programme dubbed as Qalandars’ Sikanders, said the pandemic had affected all the people and Qalandars management had decided to take care of those people who were working at the grassroots level of the game.
“A good number of 2000 cricketers, umpires, scorers, referees and groundmen have made contacts with the Qalandars for help and we are helping them quietly without any photo session or publicity,” said Aaqib.
“As we have been working at the grassroots level, we know each and every cricket stakeholder quite well. So our aid will only go to deserving people who have been serving cricket in different aspects,” Aaqib said.
“Since no one knows when the corona virus pandemic will end, the number of needy members of the cricket family could be raised,” he said.
He said since no domestic cricket was being held due to the COVID-19 and the departmental cricket had also been abolished, the problems of the cricketers had increased. Aaqib emphasised that secrecy was being maintained in helping out the needy cricketers, umpires, scorers, referees and groundmen.
It may be mentioned here that a good number of cricketers, umpires, referees and scorers whose major portion of annual income depends on cricket matches, are in need of financial support. So far the PCB has not come out with any such financial policy for the cricket officials working at the grassroots level, despite having billions of rupees in its kitty.
The PCB has announced that it will only take care of 220 cricketers who are on its central contract list. But the Board has not paid attention to umpires and scorers which should have been done three weeks ago. Only 15 umpires are on the central contract list, whereas around 40 umpires who are totally dependent on domestic cricket matches are going through hard times due to financial problems and same is the case of the scorers.
Meanwhile, to a question, Aaqib said that he wanted the remaining maches of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) to be held under the first format of the league of play-offs instead of semifinals and then the final.
To a question, he said there was no need to hand over the trophy to the top team on the points table.
Unfolding the details of the talent hunt scheme, Aaqib said: “In the first phase interested cricketers would send their videos to show their talent. A four-member coaching panel along with one analyst will watch the videos and among them 64 would be selected. The numbers will then be cut down to 32 and then to 16 to finally pick four best cricketers. And if the situation will come to normalcy, the 16 probables will be called to the Qalandars’ High Performance Centre, before selecting final four.
He said the last four selected players will have the chance to tour Australia to represent the franchise in Dubai T10 league, besides the next PSL. The U-23 cricketers could send the videos.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2020