ISLAMABAD

Asif Bajwa, coach and mentor of fast bowler M Aamir, termed his pupil a mature sportsman after the ICC allowed him to play domestic cricket adding he has still a long career.

Talking to The Nation on Tuesday, Bajwa said: “Aamir is more focused, composed and better human being now who has learnt a lot during the four years of ban and now he has recovered very well from the dark days.”

He said if Aamir wanted to return to the national squad, he had to work very hard. “I have asked him to forget about the past and completely focus on the task ahead. He is a great fighter, quick learner and I am quite sure he will make a strong comeback. He has improved a lot and showed glimpses of his magical bowling during the Grade-II match against tough CDA side. He completely rattled CDA top order, but he struggled at the later part of the innings. It was quite natural and he will take some time and matches to regain full match fitness.”

Bajwa added: “I have started Bajwa Academy at Amir Cables cricket ground Faisal Town in Lahore and with in no time, I have strength of over 100 kids in U-12 and U-19 categories. I have divided players into three groups and they are trained in three sessions as the first session starts from 8am to 11am, second 12pm to 3pm and third from 3:30pm to 6pm. I also took four Test cricketers onboard including M Amir, Abdul Rehman, Sohaib Maqsood and wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider. They will come and pass on their experiences and knowledge to kids.”

To a query regarding talent in the kids, Bajwa, who has already coached Rawalpindi Region talented youngsters at his academy in Rawalpindi, Bajwa replied: “Talent is almost same in Lahore and Rawalpindi, but the major difference is the amount of cricket played in Lahore which is blessed with a number of cricket grounds unlike of Rawalpindi where only 2 or 3 grounds are available.”

He said it was a matter of great honour for him and his academy that his student Gohar Hafiz had already led Pakistan U-17 team against England in the UAE. “I have also given a lot of players to domestic cricket, and it is my promise, if I am given space and liberty to work in Lahore, I will produce at least 3 to 4 players in next two years, who will play for national team.”

“I am grateful to Rawalpindi Region head coach Sabih Azhar, who provided me every support during my days in Rawalpindi, and Islamabad Region president Shakil Sheikh, who always treated me like a younger brother. I would like to say due to sincere efforts of Shakil Shekh, Islamabad has cricket grounds and can easily hold national and international matches.

There is hardly any top quality ground in Rawalpindi with the exception of Pindi Cricket Stadium, KRL and Army Cricket ground, but Islamabad's each and every sector has quality grounds, thanks to Shakil Sheikh, and people also must appreciate his efforts and gave him credit.

“I am also grateful to Amir Cables for providing me ground, where I started my academy. I have planned to develop 25 players’ pool between U-16 to U-19 age group and also include senior players and turn them into quality,” Bajwa concluded.