LEEDS: Team of coaches from Lahore Qalandars headed by chief operating officer Sameen Rana to visit Yorkshire County Cricket Club this summer.
The visit is set to take place during the third ashes test match between England and Australia at Headingly, Leeds. Former England fast bowler Darren Gough who is currently working as Director of Cricket at Yorkshire CCC revealed this to Geo News during an exclusive interview. The visit is part of the partnership program signed between the Yorkshire CCC and Lahore Qalandars in 2021.
Gough said that he has been frequently in contact with Qalandars’ COO Sameen Rana and also helped Qalandars for the team selection in the PSL.
“I’m very close to the Lahore Qalandars and have a great relationship with Sameen Rana. We speak on a weekly basis. I went over to see the open trials last year held in Lahore and helped with some of the selection for the PSL tournament last year.”
“It was great to see them (Qalandars) win back-to-back titles in the Pakistan Super League. It’s a great organisation, great to be connected with the Lahore Qalandars and have a partnership with them”
Part of the agreement signed by Yorkshire and Qalandars was to provide opportunity for former to learn from and emulate Qalandars’ Players Development Program (PDP).
“They will be coming over for the ashes test match – Sameen and a few of the coaches from the Qalandars – where we’ll catch up and we will be doing a coaching session within Yorkshire during that period. I’m really excited about that one as well”.
Under the agreement Yorkshire County Cricket Club is working with the Qalandars to learn from their expertise in identifying and nurturing local talent from all backgrounds, to create an all-inclusive program and reducing barriers to entry to cricket for young people across Yorkshire.
Speaking about his visit to Lahore last year Gough said that he not only enjoyed the hospitality but also the love and affection shown by the people towards him.
“I went back to Pakistan last year. I had a terrific time over there. The sightseeing, the hotel and the way people welcome you was a fantastic experience”.
“I’d like to think that at some point we can go out as a team to Lahore and go to the Lahore Qalandars high performance centre. It will be great for us to go and do that as a team”, he added further.
During the 90s, Gough emerged as the most successful England fast bowler in the post Botham-Willis era. The right arm pacer played 159 ODIs for England taking 235 wickets. He also featured in 58 test matches from 1995-2003.
In his playing days Gough toured Pakistan twice with England team. His first outing was in the 1996 Cricket World Cup which was co-hosted by Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. England lost to the eventual winners Sri Lanka in the quarter finals. In 2000 Gough was back in Pakistan for the test and ODI series. He claimed 6 wickets in the famous Karachi test match which England won by six wickets in the gloom. That’s was England’s first test win in Pakistan in nearly four decades, for Gough that’s still one of the most cherished moments of his career.
“I’m going to be 53 this year and I love my food. I don’t have to play cricket anymore so my experience of Pakistan is I just love going there. I’ve always talked about it fondly my tour there in 2000 with England when we won in Karachi in the dark was one of the best moments of my career”.
Gough was appointed Yorkshire’s director of cricket in 2021 amid the fall out of the allegations of institutional racism in the club made by former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq. Since then, club has taken many positive steps to become more diverse and inclusive. One of them was the signing of the player change programme with Qalandars. More recently the club has signed the “Muslim Athlete Charter” designed by Nujum sports to cater for the religious and cultural needs of those players, fans and club staff who are of Muslim faith. Apart from that club is now regularly holding meeting and educational workshops to understand better the needs of Muslims players and support staff.
“I think we’re all learning every single day. Yorkshire county cricket club has been through a lot the last 18 months. we’ve got a number of Muslim athletes and a number of colleagues in the office that of Muslim faith and we are learning and being educated on a daily basis we’ve all done Group Training together as well to understand the needs especially in times like Ramadan which is a very religious time”.
He said that the club is working hard by understanding the players’, by understanding the different needs of different faiths to become more inclusive where people from all faiths and none are welcome.
“We welcome anybody to this (Yorkshire) cricket club and we support them in any way we can. I’m proud to be part of the future and hopefully we’ll get things right. Every now and then we’ll get it wrong but we’ll learn from mistakes and we’ll move forward together”.