BAHRAIN Cricket Federation (BCF) president Hatim Dadabai said yesterday that it had been a great privilege for the kingdom to host an Asian Cricket Council (ACC) executive board meeting for the very first time over the weekend with the feedback from ACC board members being overwhelmingly positive.
The ACC, formed in 1983, consists of five ‘full member’ nations – those with full International Cricket Council (ICC) status: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – and 20 countries with ‘associate’ ACC status, including Bahrain.
The meeting, which concluded last Saturday, was requested by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Najam Sethi and focused on trying to resolve a dispute between Pakistan and India over the 2023 Asia Cup, scheduled for September.
The hosting rights for the tournament were awarded to Pakistan in late 2021 by the ACC’s executive board. But Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah, who is also the ACC president, said last October that India would not participate in the competition unless it was held at a neutral venue, leading to an impasse between the two boards.
Although the issue remained unresolved during the ACC meeting, Shah, who was accompanied by Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Arun Singh Dhumal, took the opportunity to tell BCF officials that the ACC would launch a detailed plan for the sport’s development in Bahrain.
“It was a great privilege for the BCF to host the ACC executive board meeting in Bahrain and we are grateful to Mr Shah for providing this opportunity to us,” Dadabai told the GDN. “We are immensely pleased with the positive feedback we have received from the ACC and its board members on the arrangements made by the BCF.
“This was the first trip to the kingdom for many of the delegates. They loved Bahrain and we are looking forward to hosting more such high-profile cricketing events.”
Dadabai said that the BCF held interesting discussions with their ACC counterparts, focusing on key initiatives and successful strategies implemented in other countries.
“Those discussions will help us to develop cricket in Bahrain further,” he explained.
All the progress made by the BCF, Dadabai added, was due to the leadership of Supreme Council for Youth and Sports first deputy chairman, General Sports Authority chairman and Bahrain Olympic Committee president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalilfa.
The BCF’s chief development officer Gurumurthy Palani told the GDN that the ACC meeting provided BCF officials with the chance to have close interactions with the cricket board chiefs of established Test-playing nations, which led to inspiring revelations on how the game had been developed in those countries.
“What we learned was priceless,” Palani said. “And we are confident that we will be able to build a similar structure in Bahrain under the patronage of Shaikh Khalid.
“We are also grateful to Mr Shah for launching a detailed development pathway for cricket at all levels in Bahrain, from the men’s and women’s game to age-grade cricket, such as at the U-19 and U-16 levels.”
BCF advisory board chairman Mohammed Mansoor said that the ACC meeting had resulted in Bahrain becoming the focus of the cricketing world for the duration of the three-day event and represented a major boost for the sport in the kingdom.
“This is really important for cricket in Bahrain,” he told the GDN. “In addition, Mr Shah has promised us that he will extend the BCF the ACC’s full support in our efforts to build a proper cricket stadium and other infrastructure.”
Last March, Mansoor and Palani were invited to the ACC’s annual general meeting in Sri Lanka where they outlined the BCF’s plans for the next three years to Shah.
“I invited him to hold the ACC’s next meeting in Bahrain,” Mansoor said. “And I am so glad that, when this meeting was requested by Mr Sethi, Mr Shah chose the kingdom as the venue.
“Now, with the ACC’s increased involvement, we will be able to develop and grow the game even better. And that, in turn, will lead to a boost to the economy because, once we have a cricket stadium and basic infrastructure in place, it will lead to sports tourism.
“All the progress we have made is due to Shaikh Khalid’s leadership and the support extended to us by Brave Combat Federation president and KHK Sports chief executive Mohammed Shahid.”