They wore our shirts with pride during the Standard Chartered Afro-Asia Cup, once it was explained to them what the ACC represents.
“From Afghanistan to China, at least a billion cricketers and sports fans look to Asia’s top cricketers for guidance and an understanding of what it takes to be a champion in life. You inspire so many with your actions. The ACC works to develop and promote the game throughout our twenty-two member nations and a lot of it is done through the work of ACC Development Manager Sultan Rana and ACC Development Officer Rumesh Ratnayake” (Asia’s coach for this tournament) “and all their colleagues but you, the international stars have the most powerful impact. A few words from you would do so much to inspire the next generation of cricketers to follow in your footsteps and be the best cricketers they could possibly be.”
All of the above was said to them in the first team meeting when they were in South Africa representing the ACC and Asia. All the players had been in at least one other ACC event before this – the Asia Cup – but this was the first time they truly understood what roles they play in the ACC and what the ACC does.
The ACC and ICC have a broad agenda for development involving curators, coaches and umpires but the players are the ones who influence the hearts and minds of the up-coming youths the most. During their week in South Africa, the players were all asked this question “if a young cricketer asked you how they could be as good as you, what would you tell them?” Here follows their responses:
Shahid Afridi: “Always play positive with a big heart. Never be scared of trying hard.”
Mohammad Ashraful: “I always tell every young cricketer that they must have three things if they want to succeed. First, you must love the game. Second you must have aims. Third, you have to have good technique and have no fear.”
Shoaib Akhtar: “Listen to your parents and study hard. It’s a short career. Give it everything you’ve got.”
Inzamam-ul-Haq: “It’s all in the hands of God but you must live well also.”