KARACHI: Pakistani all-rounder and former skipper Shahid Khan Afridi has said he is ready to mentor Saudi cricketers if the kingdom seeks his help.
The comments come in the wake of a meeting between the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, and Pakistan’s Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, this month in which they discussed cooperation in the field of sports, with a focus on cricket.
“If I get a request [to train Saudi cricketers] I will definitely go as this is our own county and the people are our own,” Afridi said in an interview with Arab News at his home in Karachi this week.
The 40-year-old cricketer, fondly known as Boom Boom, captained the national team between 2009 and 2011, before retiring from international cricket in 2017. He is well-known for his philanthropic work across Pakistan and has formerly worked with UNICEF and a number of national organizations.
“I have been to Saudi Arabia previously,” he said, detailing his many trips to the Kingdom. “In my opinion there should be cricket [in Saudi Arabia]. There is our [Pakistani] community, which also likes to play cricket,” he said, referring to three million Pakistani expats who reside in the kingdom.
Pakistani minister Mirza said this week that Pakistan was working on “practical steps” to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to promote sports in the Kingdom, particularly cricket.
“I believe in sports diplomacy,” Mirza told Arab News in an interview on Monday. “The matter [of cooperation in cricket] has been taken with Ehsan Mani, chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board. We are working on practical steps to collaborate in promotion of sports, especially cricket.”
According to a statement issued by Mirza’s office, during her meeting with the Saudi ambassador last week, he said cricket was becoming popular in Saudi Arabia because of the Pakistan cricket team, which had a following in the country.
“We want to utilize Pakistan’s rich experience in the field of cricket and promote it in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Malki was quoted in the statement as saying.