Sharjah. Ali Asad Abbas was one of UAE’s most fearsome fast bowlers. This six feet — five inch tall pacer, who had to battle against the toughest of odds despite his talent, is now on a mission. He wants to help the UAE national team find good fast bowlers and is staging a Speed Hunt programme towards that end.
Asad wants to bring to the fore talented fast bowlers and is being backed by Mohammad Tauqir, who captained the UAE in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup and is now the national team selector. The Speed Hunt programme will be held at the Eden Garden’s Ajman ground on July 20 at 4pm.
Asad launched the programme to unearth young talent based on his own experience. Hailing from Pakistan, Asad he would have become the country’s fastest bowler had luck and support favoured him during his early days. He even went on to represent Pakistan A team in 1995-96 and even played against New Zealand, but could make it to the national team.
Speaking to Gulf News, Asad said: “There are many fast bowlers here [in the UAE] and this Speed Hunt programme is meant for them to come and bowl and show their speed. I want fast bowlers to chase speed. To make it competitive we will give a cash prize of Dh500 and a trophy for the fastest bowler and the rest will get certificates. There is no age-limit for this programme. After this programme, I will run a fast bowlers camp.”
Asad’s spell of nine wickets in the inaugural International Cricket Council Intercontinental Cup for UAE against Nepal in May 2004 is the UAE’s best individual bowling performance in international cricket. He would have got all ten wickets in an innings had two catches not been dropped off his bowling. “You need luck, but I wasn’t lucky. I had played with pacer Waqar Younis, who was senior to me in the Panther Tigers Team in Pakistan. Saeed Anwar also played for that club and it was a pleasure to play with them. I am happy I played alongside top players like Saqlain Mushtaq, Saleem Elahi, Azhar Mahmood and Rana Naveed for Pakistan A,” he said.
Asad initially coached in Abu Dhabi and shifted to Sharjah and has set up his own coaching centre called Ali Cricket Training Centre (ACTC). “My next programme is to stage a speed hunt for Under-17 and Under-19 cricketers in September. “Budding players can write to me on email@example.com. There are many clubs like Defenders Cricket Club, Titans, Cricket Training Centre, MVCA and also Al Wafaa Carton Boxes Industry who have come forward to support my programme,” said Asad, who had once trapped Sri Lanka’s legendary batsman Sanath Jayasuriya LBW through sheer pace in the Asia Cup 2004 in Dambulla.