ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi here Wednesday paid a surprise visit to the Diamond Cricket Ground and Diamond Cricket Academy and made his own assessment on the utility of the venue for the budding cricketers.
The minister, accompanied by CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed, officials of the MCI and local administration, talked to the people there in a bid to make his personal assessment. He was also briefed on the existing facilities.
The minister himself was a first-class cricketer who knows inside out of the cricket infrastructure and hardships the players and associations go through in maintaining grounds. Afridi also walked in the ground to judge himself about the quality of cricketing facilities.
The minister offered his Maghrib prayers in the changing room of the Diamond Ground where Prime Minister Imran Khan visited twice last year to open Insaf Cricket Talent Hunt Programme.
He also directed the concerned to halt illegal and ill-conceived MCI-CDA operations aimed at destroying cricket grounds in the capital. His decision was widely welcomed by thousands of cricketers and the association.
Last year, legendary cricketer Imran Khan had profusely praised self-maintained Diamond Cricket Ground, and termed it the best in the private sector. He also promised to build such type of grounds all over the country.
It may be recalled that MCI-CDA never incurred a penny on these grounds. Both the ‘white elephant’ organisations failed to build any notable sporting facility in Islamabad during the last decade.
Diamond Cricket Ground along with other grounds was built in 2007 after the judgement delivered by the Senate through its committee and was handed over to the management of the ground and Islamabad Cricket Association. The club management through generous financial assistance by the PCB/ICA spent more than Rs0.5 million per month to keep the facility well-maintained, despite paying a huge salary to the staff.
Dubbed as one of the best cricket centres, Diamond Ground can be described as a storm in a teacup as some vested interests in the MCI/CDA are showing undue haste to take it over as they did with National Cricket Ground, Bhutto Cricket Ground and F-9 Park Cricket Ground.
It is MCI/CDA which over the years turned these top quality sporting facilities in bad shape with everything torn away at the venues under their control.
“It is jurisdiction of the ICA to control and manage cricket in their respective areas, not the MCI/CDA,” said ICA President Nasir Iqbal.
The capital is a lucky city where top quality first-class grounds exist and are managed by the association to the satisfaction of the PCB and the players. “We hope that a better decision in the interest of the game will be taken, besides building at least 10 to 20 more cricket grounds in Islamabad,” said Nasir Iqbal.
“We do not care about negativity of some individuals who are either jealous and do not want to see players from this area rising to national level. We will keep serving cricket wholeheartedly.”