Karachi: The game of Cricket, has it’s impression, in the United States of America, as old as the 18th century but progress has not been very encouraging until about a decade ago however since the inception of various leagues and competitions the game has shown signs of improvement in the country.
The International Cricket Council, too, started taking keen interest in that region and their backed body has been looking after the affairs of the game in the country. Earlier, the USA Cricket Association (USACA) was suspended on the charges of irregularities.
To a very large extent the game of cricket is still taken care off by South Asians and the West Indians and therefore their dominance has been obvious in cricket administration in the USA as well.
Very recently, the USA cricket authority, roped in three former Pakistan players and delegated key responsibilities to them.
Asif Mujtaba, former Pakistan Test cricketer, was appointed as the Women’s Youth Coach and will take on primary responsibility for identifying and developing young female cricketers, and building a junior squad of players to compete for places in USA Cricket’s new Women’s Under 19 program, as well as providing assistant coaching support to the Women’s National Team.
Additionally, the USA Cricket appointed another Pakistan Test cricketer, Jalaluddin to complete the list for all six zonal selection panels as Jalaluddin was aannounced as Zonal Selector for the South West Zone, where he will join Orlando Baker and Jannisar Khan – another former Pakistan cricketer – on the three-man Zonal Panel.
On his appointment, Asif Mujtaba, who earlier held the position of senior and junior teams’ selector, said that now the USA Men’s cricket team has the One-day International status, therefore Women Youth coach carries a huge responsibility as well.
“My previous position was the selector of USA Men and Men U19 teams and that was quite a task to accomplish as USA did not have any domestic cricket structure to scout players”, Asif Mujtaba told this correspondent from Dallas.
“Coaching Women Youth is a big responsibility to prepare them for the international events, where young girls are more into to play basketball, soccer, softball etc”, Asif Mujtaba, played 25 Test matches for Pakistan, added.
On Mujtaba’s placement in the setup, Nadia Gruny, a USA cricket board director and chair of the women and girls committee, said this appointment is an important step toward establishing a girls‘ junior national squad.
“The girls are very talented and committed to becoming top international cricketers and Asif is the right coach to help them get there. It’s the first time we are engaging junior girls in a national squad setup which is testament to our strategic focus on women and girls cricket. These girls have a very bright future and a lot of cricket to look forward to”, Gruny, the former USA national women team’s captain, told this correspondent.
“We have got our eyes set on preparing them for future ICC U19 girls World Cup and the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, should Cricket be included in that edition of the Olympics”, Nadia Gruny, who played three T20Is against Pakistan in Florida in 2015, added.
This correspondent reached out to another Pakistan Test cricketer, Jalaluddin who was announced as a selector for South West Zone for selecting cricketing talent from states such as Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
Jalaluddin, the first person to register hat-trick in a One-day International (in 1982), said that the USA Cricket Director of Operations Richard Done and USA Cricket League Director/Chairman Cricket Committee Sushil Nadkarni offered him the position.
“Currently, the Zonal Trials are underway across the country so I’m looking forward to identifying the next generation of cricket talent in the USA”, Jalaluddin, a Level-3 qualified coach from the UK & Level-4 from the PCB, said.
Jalaluddin got the Green Card around 2015 based on his coaching credentials. Since last three years, he has been involved in the American cricket through organisations like the Michigan Cricket Association and the Diversity Cup.
“I have keen interest in playing a significant role in developing the USA Cricket as I believe USA is the upcoming cricket hub based on ICC’s direct involvement along with strategic partners such as American Cricket Enterprise and sports broadcasting giant Willow TV”, Jalaluddin added.
Meanwhile, Jalaluddin’s fellow selector for the South West Zone, Jannisar Khan has also vowed to carry out his responsibilities with dedication and method.
“My focus will be to instil confidence in players to express themselves without fear”, Jannisar Khan, based in Houston, told this correspondent.
Jannisar, went on to play international cricket for the USA. The all-rounder played 68 first class matches, with 2213 runs and 98 wickets to his credit.
“Handling pressure is the name of the game and I am hopeful that the USA would progress further in cricket. I know it’s a tough ask but when there is a will there is a way”, Jannisar Khan concluded .