Dubai: Sarfraz Ahmad, captain of the Pakistan team that will take on Sri Lanka in their home series in UAE starting September 29, feels that cricket needs support at the grass-root level from ardent lovers of the game.
Speaking to Gulf News after being signed up by Danube Group as their brand ambassador for the Pakistan market, along with Anis Sajan, Managing Director of Danube Group, Safraz said: “Grass-root cricket needs lot of support. Many cricketers from Pakistan have been able to play in UAE tournaments due to support from cricket-loving supporters like Anis. He invited them to play for Danube, some were given jobs, a place to stay and a lot of time for practice. In fact, even I have come and played here many times.”
Referring to the role by played by Danube in supporting cricketers, Sarfraz said: “It is exciting to be in a place where there are supporters for the game. Cricket builds up relations. Even when India-Pakistan cricket matches happen, it builds up relationship. Cricket needs people who can guide them from a young age and bring them up with support. Nearly 20 to 25 cricketers from Pakistan have played for Danube. The nice thing is that his team is made up of all nationalities such as Sri Lankans, Indians and Pakistanis.”
Anis, referring to why he picked Sarfraz as brand ambassador, said: “I have known Sarfraz for almost five years and I am glad that his friendship has grown into a relationship with Danube. Sarfraz has a huge fan following around the globe. He is confident, innovative, versatile, dynamic and full of confidence, yet humble and down to earth. All these qualities go well with our brand.”
Sarfraz says he would like to support anybody who backs the game. “Though we have known each other for many years and he approached me for a role with Danube many years ago, due to my tight schedule travelling to Australia and England, I could not accept the request,” said Sarfraz.
Sajan then went on to reveal that some of the leading cricketers in the Pakistan team for the series against Sri Lanka has played for Danube: “Fakhar Zaman, the sensational opener, Azhar Shafiq who excels in all forms of cricket, and Yasir Shah, one of the greatest leg spinners, played for Danube before they established themselves as renowned cricketers.”
Sarfraz who has proved successful as both a player and captain is today the most sought after role model. He captained Under-19 Pakistan to victory in under-19 World Cup in 2006. He also captained Pakistan to the Champions Trophy title and last week ensured the victory of his team win over the World XI too. He has also guided the Quetta Gladiators twice to the finals in the Pakistan Super League. “I know I have many fans today, but I love and relax watching Indian movies, especially those of Salman Khan,” he said.