Cricket in Saudi Arabia: A Sport Uniting South Asian Expatriates.

by: TN Sports News Riyadh:
Cricket, often described as more than just a sport, has a unique ability to unite people, especially South Asian expatriates in Saudi Arabia. For decades, cricket has been a weekend ritual, a source of joy and camaraderie for expats from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

In the early days, cricket was played on open grounds, parks, and makeshift pitches, serving as a recreational outlet for the diaspora. However, with limited opportunities for entertainment, cricket became more than just a game; it was a cultural connection to home.

The Saudi Vision 2030, unveiled in 2016, marked a turning point. The Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation (SACF), established in 2020, embarked on a mission to promote cricket among Saudis and expatriates alike. Under the leadership of Prince Saud bin Mishal Al-Saud, the SACF introduced a series of competitions and programs to develop cricket in the Kingdom.

One of the key initiatives of the SACF was the National Cricket Championship, the largest cricket tournament in Saudi Arabia’s history. This initiative not only created a platform for local talent but also paved the way for the formation of a competitive Saudi national cricket team.

Mohammed Azimooddin Abdul Rahiman Karajagi, an ICC-certified curator, umpire, and head coach of the Riyadh Cricket Association, expressed his enthusiasm for the SACF’s efforts. He highlighted the significant progress made in developing cricket in the Kingdom, culminating in the Saudi team’s consecutive victories in the ACC Men’s Challenger Cup.

Despite challenges such as limited access to cricket gear and playing on grassless pitches, expatriates like Syed Salman Hussain from Pakistan, Nojmul Hasan from Bangladesh, and Obaidullah Zaman from Afghanistan remain dedicated to the sport. They see the SACF’s initiatives, including plans for professional cricket academies and turf wickets, as promising steps toward a brighter future for cricket in Saudi Arabia.

The SACF’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. High-profile cricket figures, including Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Irfan Pathan, and Kevin Pietersen, have visited Riyadh to support and share their expertise with the SACF. These interactions underscore the growing interest and potential of cricket in Saudi Arabia.

As cricket continues to flourish in the Kingdom, the passion and dedication of the South Asian diaspora serve as a testament to the game’s universal appeal. With the SACF’s visionary leadership and the support of cricket enthusiasts, Saudi Arabia is poised to become a significant player in the world of cricket.


TN Media News