“If you build it…. they will come”
“Playing cricket…… From Niagara Cricket Festival T20 at NCC 14 to 17 upcoming 5 Day Test… Pak vs. Australia”
Taufeeq Umar, the left-hand opening batsmen, has made a comeback to the Pakistan Test squad for the two-match series against Australia in the UAE. Taufeeq played the last of his 43 Tests in July 2012.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, 28, and seamer Imran Khan, 27, get maiden call-ups to the Test squad. Mohammad Hafeez has recovered from a hand injury and gets a recall after being dropped for the away Tests against Sri Lanka in August – he had had a poor 2013 in Tests, averaging 17.54, and scored 21 and 1 in the only Test he played this year. He had missed the preceding ODI series against Australia with a split webbing on his left hand.
Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, who had played those one-dayers, stays on – he last played a Test a year ago. Batsman Haris Sohail, who had been called up for the away Tests against South Africa in early 2013 but had to leave the tour without debuting due to an ankle injury, also makes the 16.
Batsman Umar Akmal and left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, whose fitness levels were found to be wanting by the PCB in September, were left out – both had played in Pakistan’s previous Test assignment, the two Tests against Sri Lanka in August. Opener Khurram Manzoor also misses out from that squad, as do the injured Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz, and the suspended Saeed Ajmal.
Pakistan play two Tests against Australia between October 22 and November 3, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
NIAGARA FALLS – Fans of cricket will get a rare chance to see the sport played at an international level this week in Niagara.
The Niagara Cricket Centre, located at 5114 Thorold Townline Rd. on the border of Thorold and Niagara Falls, and John Allan Park in Niagara Falls will be playing host to the Niagara Cricket Festival.
The festival is Canada’s only stop on Cricket Council USA’s circuit of tournaments throughout North America.
“There is an abundance of interest in cricket, but not a lot of opportunities to play, watch or experience the game properly in Canada yet,” said Tan Qureshi, a member of the Niagara Cricket Club’s board. “The Niagara Cricket Festival is our way of promoting this great game to a group of people that otherwise may not get a chance to experience it.”
The eight teams in the tournament will be vying for $30,000 in prize money.
“Cricket Council USA-managed tournaments are held throughout the summer as teams look to boost their reputation as the best in North America and of course get their hands on the lucrative amount of prize money,” said Mohammad A. Qureshi, the chief executive officer of CCUSA.
Cricket is the fastest growing sport in Canada in terms of participation and is second to soccer as the most participated in sport in the world.
“The athletes participating in this tournament represent some of the best cricket players that will touch down in North American this year and they are coming to our backyard in Niagara,” Tan Qureshi said. “The 2012 Indian Premiere League’s – cricket’s equivalent of the NHL or NBA — rookie of the year (Mandeep Singh) will be playing as will members of cricket World Cup championship squads.”
He equates Singh’s appearance in Niagara to 2012 NHL rookie of the year, Gabriel Landeskog, playing in a small hockey tournament in the United Kingdom.
“It may not warrant a lot of interest in England where ice hockey isn’t popular, but it’s still definitely worth watching, particularly if you are a fan of sport and it’s free.”
Among the other top names joining Singh (U.S. All-Stars) playing in the tournament are: U.S. All-Stars player Chandan Madan, the opening batsmen for the Mumbai Indians of the Indian Premier League; Kamran Akmal, the wicket-keeper on Pakistan’s World Cup 2009 championship squad; and, Pakistan national team player Taufeeq Umar.
Akmal and Umar will be playing for the Smart Choice team from Houston.
The event concludes with the semifinals and finals and a Bollywood Festival on Aug. 17. Brampton’s JusReign will be the event master of ceremonies for the Bollywood music acts, which include Teji Sandhu, Happy Armaan, Rehamt, The Avengers and The Broken Dance Group. Southeast Asian and Mediterranean food will also be available.
Grounds admission for all events throughout the weekend is free.
Niagara Cricket Festival
When: Aug. 14-17.
Where: John Allan Park, Niagara Falls, and Niagara Cricket Centre, Thorold.
Competitors: Eight teams vying for $30,000 in prize money.
Finals: Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. at Niagara Cricket Centre.
Bollywood Festival: Aug, 17 at cricket centre.