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(L-R) Abdul Qader Mirza, Nasim Ul Ghani, HRH Prince Bunder Ibn Muhammed, Dr. Saleh Sonbul

RIYADH, Dec. 20 – Prince Dr. Abdulaziz Ibn Nasser Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud, the patron-in-chief of the Riyadh Cricket League (RCL) in a major development that took place last Friday night stressed upon the community to unify all the leagues under one command which will lead to the formation of an eventual National league in the future.
He was speaking late night at the Marhaba Banquet hall in a function held to honor the visiting ICC representative for Asia region , Nasim Ul Ghani, who was here on a fact finding mission. The ICC official left for Madinah on December 19. Before flying for Karachi, he will have a brief stay at Yanbu and then proceed to Jeddah for a meeting with Jeddah Cricket League and to perform Umrah.
Upon arrival, the RCL officials led by Abdul Qadeer Mirza, chairman of the organizing committee gave a warm welcome to the patron-in-chief. Prince Abdulaziz shed light on his involvement in the game of cricket. He said very soon we would form a committee that will oversee the job of uniting all the bodies together.
While sending Ramadan greetings to all the distinguished guest, he said that it is a very good opportunity for us to have the ICC official amongst us. This will surely contribute to the development of this game in the country in the years to come.
It is a big task for all of us to get this game recognize through the Saudi clubs, he pointed out. This is really important step if we are to gain any progress. We all have to be patience as it is not an overnight phenomena to be accomplished. However, with sincere hard work and devotion from all of you, this can be achieved.
Our first step to involve Saudi clubs has been taken. The delegation of RCL under the chairmanship of Mirza and Ghani paid a visit to the well-known Al Hilal sports club. Dr. Saleh Al Othaim introduced them to the president of the club, Prince Bunder Ibn Muhammed Ibn Saud Al Kabeer who accorded them a very warm welcome. This was then followed by the tour of the club which is well equipped with the upto date sports facilities.
The ICC official visit resulted in an important break through which will have positive impact on the game. It was disclosed that Prince Bunder will be allowing the use of Hilal stadium for the RCL matches in the months of March and April next year as by then the current Kingdom football season would be at its low level.
This will create awareness amongst the Saudis and could attract them towards this game, Prince Abdulaziz said. He also stressed upon the guests from Yanbu, Madinah and in general to all to work with the local Saudi clubs of their respective cities to get the due recognition.
Furthermore, patron-in-chief added that I have a piece of land which is located about 65 Km from Riyadh which can be used for making a proper ground. The venue has been seen by the ICC and the RCL committee members. All are in agreement with this idea to develop this for a proper playing field as at present the RCL matches are not played at grounds which belong to us.
The winding up colorful function of the Ghani’s trip at Riyadh was attended by the RCL team captains and the managers of the participating teams as well. Amongst the other notables that graced the occasion were Dr. Saleh A. Al Sonbul, Jawad S. Khalifa – patrons, Tariq Javed – senior advisor, Shamshad Ali Siddiqui – advisor, Muhammed Anwar Muhammed – senior advisor ICOC, Dr. Saleh Al Othaim, Sarwat Pervez, Javed Munawar, Ejaz Choudhary, Sajjad Zaheer, Dilawar Mirza, Muhammed Khurshid, Fayyaz Ahmed. Choudhary M. Ayub, Zahid Bukhari from Yanbu and Dr. Khalid Abbas of Madinah leagues were also present.
From Yanbu, a Saudi player, Nadeem Nadvi who plays for Ravin club was specially invited to meet Prince Abdulaziz and Ghani. As a gesture of support, he was allowed to play in the festival match which was specially arranged for the ICC official in Riyadh. He said he liked playing cricket and in addition, he has formed a team in Jeddah as well. Multifold is now competing in the NCL tournament. He stated that he fully support the RCL in promotion of this game.
Sonbul and Khalifa, the two RCL patrons expressed views that Ghani visit has given new momentum. They said that Prince Bunder Ibn Muhammed of Hilal has shown great enthusiasm in introducing this game in the club. Since I am the honorary member of the Ittehad club in Jeddah, efforts are on the way through their president Ahmed Masood to play few matches there to enable the Saudis to see what the game is all about, said Dr. Sonbul. Shortly, a visit will be planned to coordinate these very soon, he disclosed.
He added that these steps would be important for the future generation although it will not be easy. Different efforts ways would be worked upon by all the committee members. As far as I am concerned, I will participate voluntarily in this phase of development.
Dilawar Mirza who played the role of the master of ceremony also shed light on forty years of service to the game cricket by Ghani and highlighted the various aspects of the RCL that it has gone through.
The RCL chairman while welcoming the guest appreciated the role played by Prince Abdulaziz, Prince Bunder, Dr. Sonbul, Dr. Othaim and Khalifa in supporting RCL activities. He thanked the patron-in-chief for giving us his valuable time. Very soon a national league will be formed in the Kingdom which will include all the representatives around the Kingdom, Mirza said. With this noble aim in mind, Prince Abdulaziz has offered the land and RCL is very thankful for this king gesture. He also highlighted the presence of Nadeem Nadvi, a Saudi player from Yanbu who has formed a team of his own. It was a collective effort by all for the development of cricket that has now moved in the right direction, the chairman stated.
Sarwat Pervez said that the success of any tournament depends upon the sponsors. He disclosed that today’s function was sponsored by Amaq Contracting Est., Salim Malik – Al Kabeer, B. L. Vijay of NADA, Muhammed Saeed – Sports Ghornatah. He added that RCL has also been very fortunate to have the sponsors like Naveed Sultan - Saudi American Bank, Al Bank Al Saudi Al Fransi, Syed Ziauddin – Saudi Hollandi Bank, Fuch Petroleum, Noman Baqai – Al Safi Dairy products and Rehan Khan – Al Bugshan.
Tariq Javed, a former Canadian World Cup star said that RCL is still very strong and deep rooted for the last twenty years. He pointed that the beauty of this game is that cricket is like a family. The problems do happen in the family but at the end of the day, we are one again. It is really fortunate to meet the ICC official for the first time, he said. Due to his vast experience, I believe that cricket in the Kingdom can have an association with the ICC.
He also disclosed that Ayub of Yanbu and Dr. Abbas of Madinah are in the process of writing a book called "Cricket in the Kingdom." Four years back, Dr. Abbas write a book "Madinah-tul-Nabi – Yesterday and Today" which he dedicated to the King of Saudi Arabia. He presented a copy of the book to the RCL patron-in-chief, Prince Abdulaziz who gladly accepted and praised the hard work done by the writer in putting together this important data.
Speaking on this occasion, Dr. Abbas said that he is very happy to be invited. We have great love for RCL and their efforts. It is the love and affection that has kept us together. The visit of Ghani has taken us to the international scene now. In Madinah, we are all together to work for the game of cricket and its development. He stated that since he is in the process of writing the book, he would be happy to receive any information and advise from all the game lovers.
Ayub who came all the way from Yanbu said that he feel like home when attending any RCL gala. It is a really a historical night for us as Ghani is amongst us. He assured the guest of Yanbu Cricket League full support. Giving his overall comments as he winded up his trip to Riyadh, Ghani said that he has met with the EPCA president Sikander Farooqui and had very useful discussion. As I said earlier, my purpose of this visit was to se what activities are going on in the game of cricket. I found everything very interesting here, full of prospect and people who are involved they are willing to work sincerely.
The leagues are available but it has to be expanded. The quality has to be improved. He said that I witnessed the festival match which was played between the Chairman XI and the ICOC XI which the latter won. I found that the playing standard is very good. Personally, I would like to see the Kingdom in the cricket arena soon one day. Sine the support from the high-ups is available, the chances are bright for improvement.
He went on to say that cricket is a new game here. Many years back, similar was the case with soccer but now Kingdom has earned fame. So the same situation applies to the game of cricket. I believe that it has a good future. On the infrastructure, he said that it needs lot of improvement. A comprehensive program is required from the grass-root to the high level to achieve the ICC expectation.
Commenting on the meetings attended earlier, he said that he had very open hearted meetings with Prince Abdulaziz and he has given me his full backing. The ICC development officer laid emphasis on the involvement of the Saudis. He said that for any game to improve, the locals must play the game. The number of Saudi players should be increased. Since patronage is there, it can be done although it will take little more time.
In the end, Dr. Sonbul presented a glittering shield to Ghani. The RCL chairman handed over a photo album as a souvenir which was compiled by Muhammed Ali Nadir. These photos depicted the activities carried out by the ICC official during his shot stay in the Saudi capital.
Wrapping up the proceedings, chairman Mirza paid gratitude to Prince Abdulaziz for the full support to RCL and the sports in general. He thanked all the RCL committee members and the guests who were present for making this program a success.

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