"Same words that hurt you also spur you on to work harder" : Razzaq [Pak Visually Impaired Captain]

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"Same words that hurt you also spur you on to work harder" : Razzaq [Pak Visually Impaired Captain]

Whilst Pakistan's national cricketers have always been held in high regards by the world cricket community, there is another band of Pakistani cricket players who have established a virtual stranglehold on this game. The Pakistani Blind Cricket team has an illustrious record of winning Two World Cups and registering 13 consecutive series wins and until recently, was lead by one of the most remarkable personalities in the name of Abdul Razzaq.

Spurred on by his disability and surmounting great odds in a society which pays little attention to the development of its handicapped citizens, Abdul Razzaq has risen to become one of the most successful captains of the era.

In an exclusive chat with PakPassion.net, Abdul Razzaq speaks about his childhood ambitions to follow the footsteps of Pakistan's great cricket players, the issues facing blind cricketers, the highs and lows of his career and his future plans.


PakPassion.net: What inspired you to play cricket?

Abdul Razzaq:
In terms of interest in the game, it all started when I was admitted in blind school in 1980 – Amongst all the games there, Cricket had much more activity in it and I liked the idea that you had to work hard at it.

Another source of inspiration was the performance of Pakistani (Senior) cricket team. My friends and I used to listen, with great enthusiasm, to the radio commentary of the matches played by them and I used to say to myself that wouldn’t it be great if I could play like them and represent Pakistan at the highest level as well?

My teacher, the Late Agha Shaukat Ali, was instrumental in my training as a cricketer. In 1998, two years after the formation of The World Blind Cricket, Pakistan took part in the first World Cup. Alhamdolillah, I was selected and made captain for this tournament.

So, really my inspiration was based upon listening to commentary on radio and as you know, the 1980s was a great period for Pakistani cricket which also helped my ambitions as well.


PakPassion.net: What type of problems or setbacks did you face in your career as a successful sportsman?

Abdul Razzaq:
Look, there were many problems. A decade or so ago, in Pakistan, no one gave any importance to blind people. They were considered a burden on society. In such conditions, as you can imagine, we had to face all types of problems – some cruel things were said about us such as “If the blind can play cricket than you can expect those without legs to dance as well!” We heard these things a lot and they really used to hurt us especially since we were making an effort and instead of appreciating this, we were being neglected in this fashion. These were heartbreaking moments but you know what, the same words that hurt you also spur you on to work harder.

Other main issue was that we had no support from the Government. In 1998 when we participated in the first ever World Cup, we purchased our own air tickets to represent Pakistan. We were runners up in that tournament. Thankfully, on our return, we were really appreciated by the Government and the Board as we had performed so well .

This resulted in a lot of interest in our activities. At this point, I must thank the media as when we returned after winning the 2002 World Cup in India, they highlighted our achievements and this really helped fulfill an important goal for us. What seemed to happen after that was that whilst cricket for the blind was well organized in the bigger cities with regular games and facilities, no one could imagine playing cricket in the less developed or rural areas. Once we got the exposure on the media based upon our victory in the World Cup, we started to get calls from Gilgit to Pasni - Some asking us to help a blind child known to them to play cricket! So the awareness that was created was a major milestone for us.


PakPassion.net: Based on news reports, it appears that you retired under some unpleasant circumstances – there was some talk of lack of financial support? What exactly happened there?

Abdul Razzaq:
The problem is that playing Blind cricket gives you just enough to live upon – it’s a hand to mouth situation. Match fees paid to players are around PKR 5,000 ($USD 55 or £GBP 35) and on a central contract, one can make close to PKR 12,000 ($USD 132 or £GBP 80) on a monthly basis. This is just about enough to live on as long as you can run a business or be employed on the side.

As for me, as you know, I was a very successful captain - 2 World Cup Trophies, 8 series victories - with a 100% result where we won all the series under my captaincy. I was also awarded the “Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Highest honour bestowed on a civilian) for my services to the nation. I, therefore, humbly requested our Government and our Board to look after me when I retired. Fact is that one cannot survive without financial support in the current financial environment.

However, it is not true that I retired due to a grudge. My decision was primarily based upon medical advice due to an injury – I fractured my foot during the India series. Secondly, once I was awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, there was not another accolade that one could hope for. I felt that I had no other achievement to wish for.


PakPassion.net: Have the authorities responded to your request?

Abdul Razzaq:
Nothing yet – I am still waiting for a response. If there is no reply then I will hold another press conference and draw attention to my plight. I will try my best to appeal to their conscience but after that, it’s really up to the Almighty.


PakPassion.net: What role did you have to play in the development of The Pakistan Blind Cricket Association?

Abdul Razzaq:
The World Blind Cricket Association was formed in 1996. Prior to that, most countries used to play Blind Cricket using their own rules and regulations. No international tournaments or series were played between nations.

Pakistan also decided to create its own association based upon the global body and decided to develop a structure similar to the regular cricket version. You are correct in pointing out that we set up the Pakistani Blind Cricket association and ran it in a successful manner such that we are now considered a well respected name in Blind Cricket.

I am still connected with the Association. I am the President of the Lahore region and deal with issues for the area. It’s yet to be seen what role I can play in the future. It’s really up to the directors of the Blind Cricket Association to decide on how best they can use my services. I am always available as needed. I can help in coaching or training of the national team or even for children. In fact, it is my dream to set up a cricket academy where school level children can receive training. As I said, I am ready to help out in anyway that is required.

Cricket is not just a sport but its my life and soul – its like a religion to me! It’s a passion and when one has the passion for something, you cannot extricate yourself from it. You may not be within the 50yard boundary but your work continues even beyond that!


PakPassion.net: You have had a magnificent career with 13 consecutive series wins. What, in your view, is the main reason for your success?

Abdul Razzaq:
One of the most important factors behind our success was the unity within the team. Whenever we have played away or at home, we have exhibited great unity on the field. The other aspect, as far my position was concerned, was the understanding with the players and the administration.

This is an important responsibility for the captain. He has to work with the players and also keep the management satisfied as well. As a captain, I have also understood the psyche of each player and utilize it correctly. In this, with the grace of the Almighty, I have been very successful.

In summary, team unity and good administration has helped us become what has made Pakistani team so successful. Another reason for our continued improvement is the amount of domestic cricket that is played in our country. No other country in the world can match us in this aspect. We have 6 domestic tournaments where our players remain in constant practice. This is why we are producing better players.


PakPassion.net: Now that you have retired, there is obviously a gap as you were quite important to the team – both as a player and a leader. The impact that you have on the team was most notable as Pakistan did not win when you did not play. How will the Pakistani team fare with your absence?

Abdul Razzaq:
Yes, it is true that my absence has an effect. As you know, I did not play against India and we lost the series. It’s obvious that when you lose a captain who has played non-stop for 10 years then things are not the same. All the team were hoping that I would play in the 2012 World cup but unfortunately, I got injured and decided to retire on medical advice. Yes, there will be an effect on the team but there are others who are being groomed to replace me. There are 2 or 3 players who have the requisite qualities to become captains. I have nominated their names to the board. It’s up to them to decide who is most suitable to be the next captain. So my retirement will have an effect but I am hopeful that replacements will be ready very soon.


PakPassion.net: Can you give us the names of some of the players whom you have nominated as your potential successors?

Abdul Razzaq:
Basically, we have 4 main clubs in the country who due to the quality of their players, tend to reach at least the semi final stage of local tournaments most of the time. The captains of these teams - Lahore, Bhawalpur, Islamabad and Kashmir - are present in the national team as well. They, obviously, have a lot of experience as captains. Their names are Mohammad, Zeeshan Abbasi, Mohammad Waqar and Mohammad Fayaz.


PakPassion.net: You have many victories under your belt - which victory has given you the most satisfaction?

Abdul Razzaq:
There is no doubt that every victory has a taste of its own. But in 2002, when Pakistan won the World Cup in Chennai, there was immense tension [between India and Pakistan] in those days and a war seemed imminent. We were issued visas at 5 o’ clock and we boarded the flight at midnight. We could not even attend the opening ceremony of the tournament. We went there and we played, however, our performance was not up to the mark initially. We narrowly won our first match against Sri Lanka by just 9 runs even though Sri Lanka was a relatively weak team. That’s because we travelled almost 24 hours to reach Chennai. We first had to go to Dubai, then to Muscat, and then from Muscat to Mumbai before finally reaching Chennai. So it was a very long journey as there were no direct flights from Pakistan to India. To spend 24 hours like that is extremely difficult. It was the toughest journey of my life.

Anyway, we qualified for the semi-final where we defeated England and went through to the final. In the final, we were up against South Africa who had previously beaten us in the 1998 World Cup. So it felt great to become the world champions after beating the team that had beaten us in the previous World Cup.

The other great thing that happened was that when they invited me to receive the trophy, I requested them to play Pakistan’s national anthem as it’s an international rule to play the national anthem of the team that wins the World Cup. So when they played Pakistan’s national anthem on Indian soil, believe me it felt as if I had achieved the purpose of my life. I can never forget that victory and whenever I talk about it, those scenes recur in front of me.


PakPassion.net: Of all the teams you have played against, which is the most challenging or the toughest one?

Abdul Razzaq:
India, definitely. Whenever you have a match against India in any sport, you always have this in your mind that you must win the match. There is a psychological pressure and when that happens, whilst you do play well, the probability of errors also increases proportionally. Some players fail to cope with the pressure and they get emotional. At that time, you have to calm them down which is a tough task especially during India-Pakistan matches.

Whenever we have played against India, we have had nail-biting matches with the result not becoming apparent until the very end of the match.


PakPassion.net: You spoke about the leagues and the domestic competitions in Pakistan. Can you tell us a bit more about the structure of the league?

Abdul Razzaq:
Basically, all the major districts of Pakistan were registered with the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council and an Association for blind cricket was established in each of these major districts. They hold various tournaments every year. In addition to this, these Associations also organise series’ and tournaments amongst themselves. Apart from that, we have an inter-school tournament every year where only the school teams participate. There are about 24 major organisations for the blind in Pakistan. So we gather 12 or 14 of these organisations/schools and arrange matches between them – we organise a full tournament. In this way, the kids develop an interest in cricket – play cricket on school-level encourages them to play for their district. Once they step into district cricket, every kid desires to play for Pakistan, too. At this point in time, there are approximately 3,000 blind cricketers in Pakistan who are registered with the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council.


PakPassion.net: Tell us a bit more about the facilities for blind cricketers in Pakistan. We have the NCA for regular cricketers, but are there any facilities for the blind and disabled cricketers as well?

Abdul Razzaq:
There are almost no facilities for blind cricketers in Pakistan. The foremost reason is that there is no sponsorship – there is not enough sponsorship for blind cricket in Pakistan. Whenever we have to organize a major tournament or an international series, we have a really hard time looking for sponsorship. An average cricketer receives PKR 500 ($USD 6 or £GBP 3) per match in domestic cricket. When a player travels from Karachi to Peshawar to play a match, his expenses must be around PKR 30,000 ($USD 330 or £GBP 205)– we give him only PKR 4,000 ($USD 44 or £GBP 27)or PKR 6,000 ($USD 66 or £GBP 40)


PakPassion.net: Do the family members bear all the expenses? How does the player manage?

Abdul Razzaq:
The local associations help them a bit, their families support them and the cricket board supports them a bit. So they manage it somehow.


PakPassion.net: So that means it is not a poor man’s game.

Abdul Razzaq:
The tickets, accommodation and food are provided to them by the cricket council. The player only has to bear his own personal expenses, for example if he does shopping etc. Food, accommodation and cricket equipment is provided to them by the associations and the council. A poor man can adjust and survive. If I know I only have a thousand rupees, I would try to spend only five hundred and save the remaining five hundred.


PakPassion.net: When your team was going for the tour of England, they did not issue the visa to you. What was the story behind it?

Abdul Razzaq:
Our team has toured England three times. In 2010, we were scheduled to play a tournament there. So we applied for the visas and at that time, their embassy did not issue the visas to us. The reason that they gave was that ‘the income of these players is not sufficient for them to survive in England’. When we approached them again, they apologised and assured us – we told them that the cricket board of England was the sponsor and that the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council was sending us. Considering that these boards are quite strong, the players’ personal income should not be an issue at all.


PakPassion.net: It must have been a disappointment for you initially.

Abdul Razzaq:
Definitely. It was a big blow for us. We had a month-long pre-tour training camp in the June/July heat. We practiced in torrid heat and then we went to Abbottabad and Nathia Gali for the training camp. We spent so much money and time – and when on the last day we got to know that we had not been granted our visas, believe me it was a huge disappointment.


PakPassion.net: You have a lot of experience – you have seen good times and the bad times. What is your message for the blind and disabled cricketers?

Abdul Razzaq:
Self-confidence is the most important. Increase your will-power and work hard. You never achieve anything in life without hard work. So if we have achieved success, then it certainly has the hard work of our parents, our teachers and our own selves involved in it. You may find it hard to believe but I played cricket for twelve hours at a stretch in the warm month of June - that’s how I have achieved this status. It doesn't matter what field you are in or what disability you have. If the Almighty has deprived you of vision then He has also blessed you with other talent. Utilize that talent and try to get better and better at it.

To the normal people, I will only say a few words. If they listen to it, the performance of the disabled cricketers will improve tenfold. And that is simply this – give these [blind and disabled] people a friendly environment. We need friendship, we don’t need sympathy. If this happens, it will be icing on the cake.


PakPassion.net: Many thanks for your time. We will send your message across and I hope you will have good news to give the next time we speak.

Abdul Razzaq:
If friends like you cooperate, then definitely. Insha’Allah. I have never been disheartened in life. I am optimistic and have full faith in the Almighty.
 
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Having spoken to this man, and imagining oneself in his shoes makes you really marvel at this man's inner strength.

A humble man to the core and an inspiration for ALL cricketers. - We salute Abdul Razzaq!
 
You have made the country proud and are a great inspiration for everyone - not only Pakistanis - around the world
 
Wow. This guy comes across as a very intelligent and extremely passionate character. Awesome interview.
 
Passion is the word for Mr. Abdul Razzaq:14:!!!
 
truly inspiring:14:

We need friendship, we don’t need sympathy.

I love this line.being physically handicapped myself,I know exactly wat he means
 
mashallah very inspiring, a slap in the face to many people
 
A really interesting interview.

Best of luck to Abdul for the future.

I wouldn't mind seeing our able bodied cricketers in Pakistan helping these guys out with a charity match.
 
Fantastic interview

It's sad how I never knew how successful our Blind Cricket Team was. The media barely ever covers it.

Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview.

I hope these guys are paid slightly more so that they are encouraged.

This guy is great though, he definitely deserves a peaceful post-retirement life. I hope the board hears his voice as soon as possible.
 
Fantastic interview

It's sad how I never knew how successful our Blind Cricket Team was. The media barely ever covers it.

Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview.
I hope these guys are paid slightly more so that they are encouraged.

This guy is great though, he definitely deserves a peaceful post-retirement life. I hope the board hears his voice as soon as possible.

The honour and pleasure of talking to someone like Abdur Razzaq was solely ours.
 
Lovely interview and he sounds like a great guy.

I wish him all the best for the future and hopefully we can keep in touch with him too.
 
Inshallah will touch base with him in a few weeks time and report on the outcome of his appeal.
 
Just a great interview - needs to be read again!
 
Pakistan Blind Cricket team needs attention: Razzaq


Monday, June 16, 2014 - Islamabad—Pakistan Blind cricket team which has been a consistent triumphant in the*game*more than our*national*cricket team still gets nothing to pay more than a total of Rs 12,000 to its A category players making it difficult for the blind cricketers to play-for.

Pakistan team have numerous records in their kitty in the World of Blind Cricket including the record to reach in the final of all the three editions of Blind Cricket World Cups (One Day Cricket) and winning two in 2002 and 2006. Moreover, in the very first Test match, the Pakistan team scored 721 runs against*South Africa*in 2000 and recently Pakistani manufactured plastic balls are set to be used for the first time in the 4th Blind Cricket*World Cup*scheduled to be held in South Africa*in November this year.

Recently, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced pay hikes in the players’ central contracts but the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) which acquires its annual budget from the board don’t get enough to increase its players’ central contracts.

Our national blind cricket team has no permanent ground to prepare for this year’s*World Cup, even though the PBCC has got 45 kanals of land at Ferozepur, Lahore but doesn’t have anybody to help them build a stadium and hostel for these cricketers.

Talking to APP, Former Pakistan Blind Cricket Team Captain Abdul Razzaq said at least the blind cricketers should be provided central contracts equivalent to the women cricketers which is up to Rs 50,000. “As a cricket team we have achievements more than the other teams which should be seen,” he said.

Razzaq said our players perform with all their might in the*game*but when they think about how to run their homes from the money they get, it makes them depressed and disappointed.

“The money, central contracts or match fees etc should be given accordingly on performance basis,” he said adding if not to all then at least handsome money based central contracts should be provided to those 30 players who perform best in the*game.

Current Captain, Zeeshan Abbasi said the blind cricketers’*need jobs*and a way to earn a living. “We have been showing a blasting performance in the*game but there is no recognition for us,” he said.—APP

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=244542
 
ISLAMABAD (APP) - Former Pakistan Blind Cricket team captain Abdul Razzaq will assist the visually-impaired players of Sri Lanka for T20 Blind Cricket World Cup scheduled for November in India.

Talking to APP, Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) chairman Syed Sultan Shah said the Sri Lanka team, which recently played a T20 and ODI series against Pakistan, had asked them to provide the services of a Pakistani coach.

Sri Lankan team manager Narbat Silva said that their tour of Pakistan provided them with a new learning experience and they were surprised with the country’s development in recent years. “In the eight years since we last came to Pakistan, the country has developed tremendously, even more than Sri Lanka,” he said.

The manager lamented that Sri Lanka lost the series, however, he claimed that the overall tour had a positive influence on the team. “Even though we lost the series, we will be taking positive memories back home,” he said. “We really enjoyed playing cricket in Pakistan. The people over here are kind and helpful,” he added.

http://dunyanews.tv/en/Cricket/331897-Former-Pakistan-blind-team-skipper-Razzaq-to-coach
 
Following the progress of the Visually Impaired squad reminded me of this fantastic player....
 
Sarfaraz Ahmed lauded the efforts of Pakistan Disabled Cricket Team

KARACHI. Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad has lauding the services rendered by the Pakistan Disabled Cricket Association (PDCA) as a founder of Disabled Cricket around the world.

SarfarazAhmed, Expressed his views at the occasion of celebration of World Disabled Day in the prize distribution day as a chief Guest here on Saturday at Rashid Latif Cricket Academy Ground.

Sarfraz, appreciate the performance of Pakistan Disabled Cricket Association on International Level as Pakistan Founded is National Disabled Team other countries are playing Disabled Cricket and also making is National Team. It is honor to Pakistan.

On the Occasion of Cake cutting ceremony was also hold with Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and Saleem Karim (Founder of Disabled Cricket). Sarfarz Ahmed thanks to the media person who supported the Disabled Cricketers as well as PDCA.

In a festival T-20 cricket match PDCA President XI beat PDCA Patron XI by 31 runs.

Summarized Score:
PDCA President XI won the toss and bat first.
President XI 117-7 in 20 overs (Muhammad Zeeshan 26 in 19 balls with 3x4, HaroonRasheed 25 in 17 balls with 2x4, Muhammad Kalam 24 in 13 balls with 2x6, Arif Richard 20 in 20 balls with 2x4: Muhammad Jahangir (LMF) 2-14, RaoJaved (ROS) 2-27)
PDCA Patron XI 86-10 in 15.2 overs (UmerFarooq 26 in 26 balls with 3x4, Ali Raza 18 in 18 balls with 2x4, Waheed Khan 12 in 14 balls with 1x4: Mavia (LMF) 2-12, Muhammad Kalam (ROS) 2-14, Ameer Ahmed (LAS) 2-17).
 
1b791560-9214-4d65-972d-c026e28735b4.jpg

Skipper Pakistan Cricket Team is presenting a winner trophy to Ameer Ahmed Captain of PDCA President XI winner of World Disabled Day Festival T-20 Cricket Match at RLCA Ground Gulberg on Saturday. Honorary Secretary PDCA Amiruddin Ansari and Former First Class Cricketer Zafar Ahmed also present on the occasion.
 
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Sarfraz meets disabled cricketers, lauds their spirits

Karachi: Pakistan national cricket captain Sarfraz Ahmed has lauded the efforts of the Pakistan Disabled Cricket Association (PDCA) to bring Pakistan cricketers, with physical disability, on the world map.

“Disabled cricket began from Pakistan and now other countries have also adopted this practice and have constituted their national teams. The PDCA deserves all the credit”, Sarfraz Ahmed said

“I have been following the progress of Pakistan disabled cricket team and wish them all the best in the future as well”, Sarfraz Ahmed added.

Sarfraz Ahmed was the chief guest at a T20 match, here on Saturday, to observe the world disabled people day.

On the Occasion, Sarfraz Ahmed cut the cake and also met with the disabled cricketers.

In the festival match, PDCA President XI beat PDCA Patron XI by 31 runs. Sarfraz Ahmed handed over the trophy to the winning captain.

The Pakistan disabled cricket team toured Malaysia and Singapore in 2010 and played six matches. The first international cricket series was held in 2012 between Pakistan and England.

Pakistan won both T20 and ODI series in UAE. The Pakistan team participated in the five-nation international tournament in Bangladesh in 2015, losing the final to England.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/12/03/sarfraz-meets-disableds-cricketers-lauds-their-spirits/
 
IMG-20171204-WA0028.jpg
Karachi : Disabled Cricketers With Pakistan cricket team captain Sarfaraz Ahmed on world Disabled day.
 
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