ISLAMABAD  -   Islamabad Cricket Association (ICA) North Zone President Shabbir Ahmed, alias Bolla Bahi, has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan and PCB chairman Ehsan Mani to save careers of 200 cricketers of North Zone.

Talking to The Nation, Shabbir said: “I was first class cricketer and gave my entire life to this game. I was the one, who, against all the odds, invited Imran Khan, Naeem-ul-Haq and Asad Umar at National Ground for ‘Imran Khan Fast Bowlers Talent Hunt Programme’, when PML-N government was ruling the country. I was given threats and was told not to invite PTI leadership and was told of dire consequences, but I stood firm.

 Sheikh Ansar Aziz, who was also CDA chairman at that time, just to accommodate his business partner, Abid Kiynai.

“Abid is not in mood to allow the entire zone players to even practice at National ground and only his two sons are free to utilise the National ground. Ever since, Abid has taken over the possession with the help of MCI/CDA, the ground condition is no secret. I request Prime Minister Imran Khan to pay a surprise visit to National Ground and he will come to know the reality as he knows pitches better than anyone else,” he added.

“The MCI and CDA must have mercy on youth of North Zone, who are left high and dry. Our zone has produced a number of international cricketers including Azhar Mehmood, Bazid Khan, Bilal Asad, Stephen John, Rauf Akbar, Munir-ur-Rehman Tanzil, Muhammad Naqash, Rizwan Ali, Ali Salman and others, who have played first class cricket for not only Islamabad Region, but also represented departments. Shabbir said when former prime minister Shoukat Aziz had decided to construct different new roads in the capital in 2006-7, a number of cricket grounds, including Essco ground.  “It was long struggle of IRCA President Shakil Shaikh, who fought the case of entire Islamabad cricketers. His efforts bore fruit as CDA had to bow down and construct state-of-the-art cricket grounds including Diamond, Marghazar and National grounds while other grounds such as Bhutto, XI Star, Punjab and others were renovated.

“But now for last almost three years, despite giving assurances, nothing has happened. The talent of North Zone has been wasted badly, as we don’t have any cricket ground, where we can start nets. We are thankful to IRCA and Shalimar Ground administration, who have allowed our few players to practice at their nets, but it is not the solution,” he added.

“Being a founding member of PTI, it is my bonafide right to seek justice from my leader Imran Khan to provide justice to the youth of the capital and order the concerned authorities to end the illegal occupation of not only National but also other grounds including Bhutto,” Shabbir concluded.