Mirza Mohammad Asad Baig, 58, commonly known as Asad Baig, has long been the go-to man for all things related to Kuwait cricket. A resident of Kuwait for 33 years, from the start he has been actively involved in playing and managing teams in the country in a role that has grown progressively more significant as Kuwait’s cricket has developed. Currently Director-General of Kuwait Cricket, he spoke to us when he was in Kuala Lumpur as manager of the Kuwait team in the 2009 ACC Women’s Twenty20 Championship.
"We are proud to be the only country in the Middle East to have four turf pitches, with a fifth in construction now."
When did you first start playing cricket?
I started playing in school when I was a 13-year-old in Karachi and I’ve been a captain for most of my playing career. I am proud to say that I have led school, college, clubs and national teams for nearly 30 years. So it has been a big career. So people know me as a captain and leader.
Why do you love cricket so much?
It basically came from my family and it is in my blood. My grandfather played the game, my father did, I did and now my children do. There is no particular reason. I played hockey at a national level but cricket is a more attractive game to me because it needs lot of skill, talent and technical abilities. There is no particular reason I love it, it just is.
What brought you to Kuwait from Karachi?
I came directly to Kuwait looking for a job because my in-laws were in Kuwait and they invited me. In 1976 after the completion of my education in civil engineering I found a job there and started playing cricket.
What were the first things that struck you on arrival?
The climate here is so extreme. Close to freezing at night in winter, and 50 degrees Celsius in summer. There was no grass for the first thirty years of my time. None. That any cricket is played here at all is a matter of great achievement by the cricketers. They play just because they love the game and would do anything to play it.
|Ahmadi, back in the day|
What was cricket like in Kuwait back then? Wild and uncontrolled?
Cricket was controlled by the expatriates. Cricket was played on the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) ground and 13 teams were participating in different leagues in 30-over matches. The structure and standard were very good but it was not controlled or registered. There were no official umpires and sometimes a player from one team was umpiring in the match and with that came obvious controversies.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 everyone went back to their homes and some have returned. Now the old time cricketers are working towards what they never had as players. I played a leading role in this and we formed a cricket association called the Kuwait Cricket Committee. We centralised umpiring and a registration system and applied to the ICC.