ISLAMABAD - Former Pakistan Test player Muhammad Wasim sees bright future of Sweden cricket but, he says, they need to have proper coaching and guidance to achieve the goal.

Talking to The Nation, Wasim, who is nominated as head coach of Sweden cricket team for the ICC World T20 Europe C Qualifier 2018, said: “There is hardly any cricket in Sweden, but the positive thing is that around 2000 plus players are registered with 60 clubs, who are playing regular cricket. Majority of Asians like Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans are involved while I am trying to encourage local players, as the youngsters are highly passionate about cricket and U-19 team has already won two matches.”

He said he is thankful to Sweden Cricket Board (SCB) chairman Tariq Zuwak and secretary Asif Shakoor and also to Pakistan’s ambassador to Sweden Ahmad Hussain Dayo. “They are cricket-loving personalities and taking so much interest in the game, which clearly indicates that cricket is going to flourish in this part gradually.

“Sweden will begin their campaign with the match against Norway on August 29 and if we finish in top two, we will have a chance to qualify for the top 6 round and then one team will directly qualify for the next ICC World T20. Obviously, it’s a long way to go, but the first aim is to finish in top 2 as other teams are also very competitive and fully prepared. After that, we’ll gradually set and achieve our next goals,” he added.

He said it is huge challenge for him but he is excited and keen to deliver. “I have toured twice and had two weeks training camps with the players and just returned home. The team is final, as I have forwarded the final lists to the board. I am optimistic about the chances of Swedish team. If I am offered a long-term role, I will improve infrastructure first and then will take the team to new heights.”

He said the players and Swedish Cricket Board are very cooperative, while the ICC is also supporting them a lot. “Their attitude towards cricket is very positive, kids get attracted, as they got a international cricketer as coach for the first time. We have experienced players in Swedish national team. Although they are not youngsters, yet they have experience of playing good cricket.

“I have noticed the players in junior and U-19 team and I can see cricket stars in them. My contract with the SCB is for the ICC qualifiers and it will run down next month. I want to work on long-term basis. One thing is quite sure, cricket’s future in Sweden is very bright and if they pay heed towards a few areas, which I have mentioned, no one can stop them from becoming cricketing super power in the years to come.

“Every country needs passion and youth and Sweden is blessed with both, but they lack behind a few things, which is quite understandable, but they have cricket-mad chairman and secretary, who are determined to take cricket to next level, which will definitely help the game flourish there,” he added.

“For the time being, my focus is to help Swedish cricket team give out their best and book place in the round of 6, then I will sit and discuss my future with the Swedish Cricket Board,” Wasim concluded.