LAHORE – Former first class cricket Tahir Shah has said Pakistan’s weak domestic structure is main reason behind the declining standard of cricket despite having a lot of talent in the country.

The national team still deprived of such bowlers and batsmen who may single-handedly win the matches for Pakistan. Talking exclusively to TheNation on Friday, Tahir, who coached more than 5000 first class players including national team players and captains, said the domestic structure was worse in the country while club and first class cricket was also fast declining and needs proper attention from PCB.

“It is the major responsibility of PCB and every former player to promote cricket at domestic and club levels if they want to promote the game across the country and to get future prospects otherwise to save Pakistan cricket future,” he stated.

“If club level cricket will get boost then it will help strengthening cricket at district, regional and national levels and help in producing quality players for Pakistan.”  He said a decade ago, club cricket was very strong despite having no academies, gym and other top level facilities which the current players were enjoying.

“Earlier, the club players were used to do tough practice and hard working to keep themselves physically and mentally fit and strong. They used to run more than 10 rounds of the grounds which helped them improving their stamina. They also used to do fielding, batting and bowling practices in the ground in the scorching heat of summer and Pakistan had produced players like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Abdul Qadir, Aamir Sohail and many others,” Tahir asserted.

“The top club teams of that era were Universal Club, Crescent Club, Lahore Gym, P&T Gym, Imperial Club, Mughalpura Eaglets, Cantt Gym, Prince Club, Dharampura Gym, Shaheen Club, Muslim Gym, etc. The discipline of that clubs was exemplary while their competitions were on its peak helping the players in gaining skills and confidence,” he said and added: “The best tournaments of the city in that era were Wazir Ali Hot Weather League, Nisar Memorial, Earej Khursheed, Gymkhana Cup, Shaheen Gold Cup, Service Gold Cup, etc which promoted club and first class cricket across the country.”

He said that Iqbal Parks ground, which produced legendry cricketers, was now present deserted look as cricket was being shifted to Model Town and LCCA where the club organisers and owners were busy in minting the money from rich boys and depriving the poor and deserving ones and destroying the true spirit of the game.

“Despite having all the best available facilities, the LCCA officials are unable to hold an event like Wazir Ali League, therefore, there is a great shortage of quality players especially fast bowlers who may represent the country at international level. East Zone, which has honour of producing cricket legends like Agha Zahid, Nadeem Ghouri, Naveed Anjum, Abdul Qadir, Aamir Sohail, etc, is now being deprived of grounds therefore cricket is declining fast in that area,” he added.

He said former PCB chief Tauqeer Zia had established academies aiming to promote domestic cricket across the country and succeeded in achieving it to larger extent but now these academies giving no results rather they are lavish offices of different PBC officials. “The actual academy is club which have produced players like Imran Khan, Salim Malik, Javed Miandad, Ramiz Raja, Shaoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Fazal Mehmood, Khan Muhammad, Hanif, Imtiaz Ahmad, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Shafqat Rana who earned great name and fame for the country with limited sources so PCB should focus on just domestic level if it wants revival of cricket in the country,” he stated.

Appreciating the PCB’s step of using Kookkabura cricket ball in the domestic cricket, Tahir said that the board took very good step of using these balls which would surely help local players to get familiar with international level ball and learn how to face it.

Criticising the umpiring at domestic level, he said: “Umpiring at club level as well as in first class matches is very substandard as the third class umpires are getting the jobs by using their influences and references and enjoying the PCB elite panel facilities. In fact, most of the local umpires are ineligible and must be replaced by deserving and talented ones.”