ISLAMABAD - Former Sialkot Region Cricket Association president, Malik Zulfiaqr has requested Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to fulfil his promise of constructing an international standard cricket ground for the Sialkot District.

Zulfiqar, under whom Sialkot had won seven national titles, in an exclusive interview to The Nation on Sunday said he had no lust of power as he had already played his role amicably as Sialkot Region secretary and president for eight years.

However, he was disappointed seeing the downfall of the regional team after he was deliberately dislodged as Sialkot Region has been demoted from Quaid Trophy and even not eligible to play Super-8 T/20 Championship.

“I had given Pakistan a number of top players and in a long list the standout names include Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail Shakeel Ansar, Zahid Fazal, Imran Nazir, Rana Naved. I don’t want to accept any future role in Sialkot Region but it is very painful to watch Sialkot, who were the champions in all formats, are not now even playing major tournaments. I am ready to work for the betterment of Region just because of huge pressure from the youth, who are left high and dry and there is nobody who could help them.”

He said he fought with Ijaz Butt and restarted the monthly stipends of the players. He claimed he did not receive a single penny from the PCB, which as a president was allowed to him. He said he remained always vocal for the betterment of the game and criticised Zaka Ashraf openly despite receiving a lot of threats at a time when others were praising him to get benefits as his hands were neat and clean.

He said he filed case against Najam Sethi but Sethi sought his support to get cricket clean from mafias. “I agreed and gave him 90 days and he did take great steps. But when Sethi sacked low paid employees, I couldn’t stand injustice.”

He said he appreciated and honoured the winning Sialkot team with a grand reception and distributed over Rs 2.5 million to players to take care of their financial needs but now looking the Region in shambles is quite painful.

On the future of pink ball, Zulfiqar hoped that it would bring revolution in Test cricket. However, he said the pink ball is serving the batsmen more than the bowlers. “Pink ball could be the future of Test cricket and we are receiving huge orders not locally as well as internationally and in my opinion it has a bright future ahead,” Zulfiqar concluded.