- Upcoming hi-tech stadium a major achievement of a country’s cricket
- PCB playing major role to bring more top cricket events in Pakistan
- Naya Nazimabad Cricket Stadium a real platform for the rising stars
Interview with Muhammad Talha — a passionate cricket analyst
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself and your career please:
Muhammad Talha: I am working in Arif Habib Group for last 12 years. Before joining Arif Habib Group, I have served in Al-Abbas Group, Ghulam Farooq Group and EY Ford Rhodes and had gained experience in diversified sectors serving clients spanning the Financial, Manufacturing and real estate sectors. I have served as a Director in Safemix Concrete Products Limited. I am currently holding the directorships of Karachi Sports Foundation and Naya Nazimabad Maintenance Company (Pvt) Ltd.
My current engagements include the overall set up, construction and management of an estate of the art Gymkhana Club, 500-bedded tertiary care hospital facility, education, sports facilities and Islamic Center at Naya Nazimabad, Karachi.
PAGE: Could you tell us about the marketing strategy and the value of Pakistan Super League?
Muhammad Talha: PSL is a global success and marketing is one of the reasons for it. The live coverage of PSL spans around the world to facilitate overseas Pakistanis and make sure that they are up to date with all the sports events. It is mostly streamed on YouTube, different applications and on websites like Tapmad, Willow tv, Cricketgateway.com. etc.
The viewership averages millions from outside Pakistan which generate huge revenue. Having a large crowd in the stands attracts sponsors and that is why top-notch brands sponsor their favorite teams every year. Souvenirs are given to the national heroes in all fields so that it would motivate younger generation to come and showcase their talents in any field and make Pakistan proud. If you compare PSL with BBL, there is not much difference between the two leagues, although, PSL’s viewership is more than the BBL’s viewership. As of now, the brand value of PSL is more than $330 million.
PAGE: Local stadiums such as Naya Nazimabad Cricket Stadium play a crucial role in nurturing talent for PSL. Your views.
Muhammad Talha: Domestic cricket for any Test playing nation is an important part of their cricketing system and for Pakistan, where players are usually evolved playing tape ball cricket on streets or playing on cemented pitches on rough grounds. There are not much trough pitches available in Pakistan especially in Karachi. Young players do not have enough facilities to flourish their talent. There are only fewer grounds in which trough pitches are laid down having a true bounce to play with. Naya Nazimabad Cricket is one of the ground which is covered with 5 pitches square and are now increasing 2 more pitches so that square of 7 pitches would be completed.
Local stadiums such as Naya Nazimabad Cricket Stadium are playing a pivotal role in scouting raw talents. Naya Nazimabad’s Cricket Academy is one of the top academies where future great players like Babar Azam are in the process of making. There are so many cricket tournaments especially the Ramadan Cup that are organized by Naya Nazimabad and are played at Naya Nazimabad Cricket Stadium, which provides a platform for the rising stars to showcase their talent.
The current PCB Chairman visited recently at Naya Nazimabad Cricket Stadium and was very much pleased with the overall size, its scenic views especially the green hills around it and the beautifully laid pitches in it. He applauded the facilities which are going to be the part of this beautiful stadium. He also committed to have the inaugural edition of PSL Juniors and Women’s PSL at Naya Nazimabad Cricket Stadium. He strongly emphasized to have the drop in pitches so that our cricketers would be able to play on hard and bouncy pitches. Moreover, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is already signed between PCB and Arif Habib Group for the import of drop in pitches from Australia.
PAGE: What is your perspective about the infrastructure development for PSL?
Muhammad Talha: PSL is the biggest national cricket event held every year. People from all over the country travel to certain cities where the matches are held. Developing the infrastructure will play an important role in capturing the tourists to extend their stay there. They will spend a quality time there and would want to visit again in the future. Infrastructure development will play a key role in attracting foreign players and tourists who will enjoy their time with other activities apart from watching the cricket match. These infrastructure projects will in turn create many job opportunities as many people are struggling financially due to the spread of Covid-19 and its variants all across the globe.
PAGE: What is your take on upcoming hi-tech cricket stadium in Islamabad?
Muhammad Talha: First of all, attaining the right to hold the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025 is a major achievement for Pakistan. It is the first time that Pakistan will host an international tournament after one and a half decade. Most of the stadiums out here are quite old and not properly developed so building up a new hi-tech stadium shows some positive signs that we are on the right track.
PCB is committed to complete the construction of the stadium by 2025, enabling Pakistan to organize Champions Trophy matches at the newly-constructed venue. The Prime Minister has already given in-principle approval for the construction of a cricket stadium in Islamabad and directed the PCB Chairman to utilize all the resources to complete its construction as soon as possible. This new stadium will have comfortable seats and special viewing galleries that will attract large crowds. Moreover, the stadium will have additional rooms to accommodate teams visiting for future cricketing events which clearly means that this stadium will inevitably be the biggest stadium we have so far in Pakistan. It would surely enable PCB to host matches in an environment which would be suitable for the foreign team to visit and stay in a bubble. It will also enable PCB to lessen its expenses on security.
We must congratulate PCB for taking steps to bringing back international cricket in Pakistan. England, New Zealand, Australia, West Indies have confirmed their tours of 2022 in Pakistan. This will surely boost the energy levels of PCB but also the spectators who were not able to watch high level cricket in Pakistan.