ISLAMABAD - Former international cricketer and General Manager ZTBL Masood Anwar confirmed that the inauguration ceremony of Masood Anwar International Cricket Academy has been postponed due to non-availability of ex-ICC President Zaheer Abbas.

Masood while talking to The Nation on Friday said academy is already functional and only formal inauguration was fixed for July 30. “Former Pakistan cricket team captain and Asian Bradman Zaheer Abbas, who is my childhood hero, was due to arrive back to Pakistan on 30th, but now he will arrive a day or two later and I had made up in my mind, that it would be only Zaheer, who will inaugurate MAICA so I was left with no other option but to delay the inaugural ceremony for a week at least”.

Masood said while other national heroes are almost available it would be a great and historic occasion for the people of Rawalpindi-Islamabad to have so many super stars and their favourite heroes at one place. “I am quite satisfied with the progress of the academy in such short span of time. I had formed the academy with only one purpose in mind and that was to provide equal opportunities to the highly deserving players of the region, who for one or another reason, don’t get enough opportunities, when it comes to representing national team is concerned. I know the exact nature of pain and agony, a cricketer feels, as I had gone through that pain and had suffered a lot in my professional career as a cricketer as I was deprived from representing Pakistan at Test level despite scoring loads of runs at domestic level and also against visiting international teams during side matches.”

Masood said he had always advocated the rights of the players even when he was the member of the PCB Governing Board and always suggested the PCB to emphasise on the fitness of the players otherwise they would not compete against the top teams.

“I also stressed upon the need of providing youngsters a platform, where they could polish their skills and overcome minor flaws in their technique, as I was and still a firm believer that Pakistani youth possesses immense talent and guts and what it takes to excel at the top. The only thing they need is proper coaching, guidance and a platform where they could rectify their errors. I am sorry to say, but it is a bitter and harsh reality that majority of the clubs and academies are more interested in minting money than working on players’ mental and physical toughness.”

Masood said Rawalpindi was long deprived of their basic right of having quality cricket grounds as this region had always produced top class cricketers, which include bowlers, batsmen and wicketkeepers including Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Muhamamd Wasim, Muhammad Akram, Yasir Arafat, Nadeem Ababsi, Naveed Qureshi in recent times and some of the great names of 1980s and 1990s, who were never provided their due right of playing for national team. He said all these cricketers had gone through his hands and either played cricket for his department or related to Rawalpindi Region when he was the PCB coach at Rawalpindi regional academy. He said he still holds the record of holding most number of catches, which is 11 in a first class match and after more than the decades the record still exists and he is the only player in Pakistan history, who had scored century and double century against visiting international teams and had never played a single Test match.

Masood said he lauded former MNA Muhamamd Hanif Abbasi for the construction of four international standard cricket stadiums for Rawalpindi youth.