ISLAMABAD - Newly-elected President of Sialkot Regional Cricket Association (SRCA) President Noman Butt and member of PCB Board of Governors has vowed to revolutionize Sialkot cricket.

In an interview with The Nation, Noman, who won Sialkot Region elections after a tough battle fought both in the court and outside, said: “Sialkot cricket played a great role in last few years. We had won a number of national titles and were doing well in first class, but in the last few years, our cricket is not at that level, where it must be. We failed to even qualify for the first class Quiad-e-Azam Trophy.

“But there were certain reasons behind it. We played good cricket in the Grade-II while weather deprived us of winning matches. Anyhow it is past now, as PCB has introduced new domestic structure and in the next PCB Governing Body meeting, I will be present and take up important issues related to Sialkot region. In the past too, I have always preferred Sialkot-based youngsters. Now I have won the elections and my doors are always open for all those, who want to work for the region,” he added.

He said Sialkot Region has three top class stadiums, where international matches used to be conducted by the PCB. But after the board has started ignoring Sialkot Region and its ground, the region also stopped producing top class players, which is indeed a national loss. We were used to be a nursery of providing talent to national team.

“I will not only take up new cricket grounds issue with PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani, but will also request him to take advantage form the services of Islamabad Regional Cricket Association (IRCA) President Shakil Shaikh’s experience, who is cricket encyclopedia. Mani did have team, but he didn’t have one single persons like Shakil, who could take forward domestic cricket,” he added.

He said it is quite strange and embarrassing that everywhere in the world, capital of the countries have top class stadiums of not only cricket, but also of other sports, but Islamabad has denied of such big facilities. The PCB should have ensured that the CDA must allocate separate piece of land for stadium construction, as Islamabad is not only the safest city in South Asia, but also a hub of cricket.

“I am a great admirer of international-standard cricket grounds that Islamabad possesses and always dreamt about having such world-class cricket grounds in other major cities. It is highly unfortunate that instead of constructing more top quality cricket grounds in Islamabad, MCI/CDA are trying to illegally occupy the existing cricket grounds. I want to make it very clear to MCI/CDA that it should not even thought about playing with futures of youth.

“I have time and again witnessed Prime Minister Imran Khan paid visits to these grounds and always termed them as role models and appreciated the IRCA for their outstanding contributions towards cricket. Now after taking over the reins of the country, instead of announcing more cricket grounds, top officials are keeping mum on the unjustified attitude of Islamabad Mayor, which is quite disappointing. If MCI/CDA don’t stop their illegal acts against the grounds, a sit-in in front of Parliament House will be staged by the cricketers of entire country,” he added.

He also lashed out the critics for trying to spoil the career of talented off spinner Arsal Shaikh, who is included in the Guinness Book of World Record by scoring a hat-trick in his very first U-19 match against Australia. “Arsal has earned huge reputation through his bowling and he deserves better treatment from the selectors as well as critics.”

He said that he had been twice elected as Sialkot Region President and it will be second time that he has assumed charge as PCB Governing Body member. “We will support all the good steps taken by the PCB chairman and would raise voice if youth would be deprived of their rights of playing cricket. I will try my best to take some drastic steps to promote cricket in Sialkot region and produce quality cricketers to represent the country at international level,” Noman concluded.