February 17, 2020

Alamgir Shaikh re-elected as SVP of ACBS

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The popular figure of Alamgir Anwar Shaikh has been re-elected as the Senior Vice President of the Asian Confederation of Billiard Sports (ACBS) for the term of 2020-2024.

According to a media release issued by Zulfiqar Ali Ramzi, Honorary Secretary, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), it has been communicated about the election details by the ACBS Secretariat based in Doha. 

“As per the information received from the Secretary General of the ACBS regarding nominations for the Executive Board elections scheduled to be held at the Annual General Meeting of the ACBS in Doha, Qatar on March 29, a total of four nominations for the following posts of the ACBS Executive Board had been received before the stipulated deadline for nominations,” the PBSA Secretary revealed. 

“Muhammad Al-Nuaimi from Qatar had filed the nomination for the post of the President with Alamgir Anwar Shaikh (Pakistan), Michael Al Khoury (Syria) and Joseph Lo (Hong Kong) having filed for the slots of Senior Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Since there were no other nominations filed for these four top positions of the ACBS, the quartet has been elected unopposed, for the term 2020-2024,” he added. 

Alamgir Shaikh expressed his delight at having been re-elected unopposed to the second highest position in the continental body of billiards and snooker for second successive term. 

“Obviously it’s an honour not only for me personally but to the entire snooker community of the country. I have also been representing the ACBS at the Board of the International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF) since 2017,” Alamgir Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA, stated in a brief conversation on February 17. 

“I have pledged to continue playing my role more proactively in the further development of cue sports at the global level. Together we will overcome the various challenges at different levels to create bigger things for cue sports,” he hoped. 

A recipient of the coveted Pride of Performance award, presented by the President of Pakistan, in recognition to his services in sports administration, Alamgir Shaikh is fondly remembered for having served a couple of highly successful tenures of four years each as the President of the PBSA, starting from 2008 to 2016. 

Even after quitting the top slot of the PBSA, in order to meet the requirements of the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), he has remained the backbone of Pakistan snooker for the past four years as well. 

He is credited to have sustained the momentum which was built by his mentor Ali Asghar Valika, who had revived cue sports in the country during his two decade long stint as the PBSA President, beginning in 1988. 

While Asghar Valika was chiefly responsible for laying the strong base, his worthy successor Alamgir Shaikh has been running from pillar to post to facilitate in raising the bar for Pakistan snooker. 

No wonder Muhammad Asif, the brilliant cueist from Faisalabad, has succeeded in bringing home the world title two times during the last eight years which speaks volumes of the monumental progress made on snooker front in Pakistan.

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February 14, 2020

Sindh snooker body could come alive as elections held under court orders

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh Billiards & Snooker Association (SBSA) has hardly ever been in the news because the body has not been known for carrying out any activity apart from holding the Sindh Cup, which serves as the qualifying rounds for National Snooker Championship. 

Even the last edition of the Sindh Cup witnessed unprecedented controversies as the SBSA was suspended following the court orders and the annual event had to be organized by a committee, nominated by the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA). 

The SBSA, however, may come alive as a result of its fresh elections conducted by the PBSA committee at the Hotel Movenpick, Karachi, on February 13 in compliance of the orders of the High Court of Sindh. 

“The High Court of Sindh, Karachi, vide its order dated December 4, 2019 of the Constitution Petition No. D-281 of 2019, had appointed the PBSA to act as an administrator, to regulate the affairs of the SBCA to from a truly representative body for the snooker & billiards players of the province of Sindh,” Zulfiqar Ali Ramzi, Administrator SBCA, and Honorary Secretary, PBSA, stated. 

“To implement the order of the High Court of Sindh, the PBSA, as administrator, called a general body meeting of all members of the SBCA to hold the elections for the office-bearers and the committee members at the Movenpick Hotel, Karachi, on February 13 and all eight candidates were elected unopposed for a term of four years,” he added.

According to the results declared by the SBSA Administrator, Muhammad Irfan Moton (President), Nisar Ali Bhagat (Vice President), Naveed Kapadia (Honorary Secretary), Abdul Ghaffar Tayab (Associate Secretary), and Muhammad Ashfaque Ghory (Honorary Treasurer) were the elected office-bearers while Muhammad Shafiq, Sohail Ahmed Marfani, Muhammad Siddiq Ragadia and Muhammad Hussain were elected as the committee members. 

Interestingly no nomination was received for the post of Office Secretary and the slot remained vacant, shrinking the size of the executive committee of the SBSA to nine instead of the prescribed 10. 

Zulfiqar Ramzi revealed that the total life members, eligible to cast vote at the SBCA elections on February 13 were around 80. 

Upon a query, he shared that nearly all the current members of the SBSA were based in Karachi and only one of them seemed to be belonging to Hyderabad. 

Without criticizing the past office-bearers of the SBSA, Zulfiqar Ramzi expressed the hope that the newly elected set-up will conduct fresh membership drive from all over the province to make it a truly representative body. 

The initial challenge for the newly elected leaders of the SBSA, before thinking in terms of extending its membership base or doing any other activity, would be to resolve the issues concerning the last edition of the Sindh Cup. 

The top performers of the Sindh Cup, quite a few of whom participated in the just concluded National Championship at the Karachi Gymkhana, had still not received the prizemoney which was due to be paid to them.

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Prof Siraj Bukhari condoles Waqar Hasan’s demise

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

Prof Syed Siraj-ul Islam Bukhari, the longest serving office-bearer of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), has been saddened by the death of Pakistan’s former Test batsman, Waqar Hasan, who passed away recently in Karachi recently following a brief illness. 

“The passing away of Waqar Hasan, the last surviving member of Pakistan’s first-ever Test team, has made the entire cricket community sorrowful and heavy-hearted,” Prof Siraj Bukhari, who served the KCCA as President for four years after being its elected Honorary Secretary for a staggering three decades,” observed in his condolence message. 

“Having worked closely with him for a number of years, I am deeply grieved and depressed at his tragic demise. He captained the Karachi teams of which I used to be the manager. We had extremely cordial relationship as he was such a fantastic cricketer and a thorough gentleman,” the former KCCA boss recalled. 

“Besides being a stylish middle-order batsman and a safe fielder, he was an able leader who inspired his teammates with his positive approach. After being Pakistan’s highest run-getter in the inaugural Test series against India in 1952-53, he continued to score consistently at the international level and was regarded as a dependable batsman. He was certainly one of the pillars on whom the Pakistan team rested in the formative years,” Prof Siraj Bukhari complimented. 

“After hanging his boots and later making a name for himself in the business arena, he returned to cricket in the role of an administrator. He also served with distinction as the Honorary Treasurer of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB),” he added. 

“Acclaimed as one of the most respected personalities of Pakistan cricket, the soft-spoken Waqar Hasan has left a legacy and he will always be remembered and missed,” Prof Siraj Bukhari concluded.

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February 12, 2020

Rampaging Asif comes from behind to edge out Shahid in epic national final

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The mercurial Muhammad Asif, easily the greatest cueist to be produced by the country in the recent past, continued his march towards glory by regaining the national crown yet again. 

The top seeded cueist, also the reigning world champion, came from behind in the final against unseeded Shahid Aftab to win the Jubilee Insurance 45th National Snooker Championship 2020 at the Karachi Gymkhana on February 12. It’s the fourth time he has won the Nationals, having done it earlier in 2009, 2012 and 2018. 

It was an all-Faisalabad final as both the cueists, living in close vicinity of each other in the industrial city, had outsmarted their opponents in the earlier matches to set a date for the title clash. 

The final, telecast live on Geo Super, lasted no less than six hours without any break. The snooker fans, all over the world, got the opportunity of watching an epic final between two seasoned campaigners. 

The 38-year-old Shahid looked the obvious favourite to reclaim the trophy when he ran into 6-2 and then 7-3 lead in the best of 15-frame final but the 37-year-old Asif staged magnificent comeback from the brink of disaster to win the contest 8-7 with the scores of 21-69, 80-73, 67-20, 26-49, 42-77, 25-106, 35-69, 1-76, 116-0, 88-2, 0-107, 78-32, 72-35, 62-48, 70-28. 

Shahid drew the first blood by winning the opening frame. He was set to double his lead until Asif chalked up a break of 69 to snatch the second frame. Asif moved ahead with another fine break of 63 in the third frame but Shahid, quite remarkably, won the next five frames to go into a commanding 6-2 lead. Asif narrowed the deficit by securing the ninth frame but Shahid produced an excellent break 85 in the very next frame to go 7-3 up. 

Shahid needed at this stage was just one more frame but Asif didn’t let it happen with a mixture of good fortune and incredible resilience. Slowly but surely Asif got into his elements and there was hardly any doubt about the outcome when the two cueists entered the arena for the decisive 15th frame of a marathon final. 

“Oh yes there were times during the final when I thought it might not be my day and Shahid could run away with the title. But I also held a firm belief that my opponent could make an odd mistake here or there to let me provide the opening I needed and, as everybody saw, he did play a few false strokes and I was back in business,” Asif remarked. 

“Experience of taking the game deep comes handy as this quality is not built overnight, no matter how talented the cueist may be. I have also learnt it after toiling hard for so many years and the ability to absorb pressure indeed has become my forte now,” he added. 

“I played to the best of my ability and came very close to regaining the national title after nearly a decade. But Asif played better than me in the end and he capitalized on my mistakes to change the course of the match,” Shahid said rather sportingly. 

"No, I was not overawed by the reputation of my opponent or anything like it. Simply I had to pay the price of committing the mistakes which I could have avoided. May be I was little eager to go for the kill which resulted in playing shots which could have been avoided,” he reckoned. 

The final, going to the full distance of 15 frames, was followed by the prize distribution ceremony, also beamed live, in which Syed Usman Qaiser, Head of Marketing, Jubilee Life Insurance, and Tauseef Shah, Head of Marketing, Jubilee General Insurance, presented awards to the outstanding performers. 

Both the dignitaries vowed to extend support for snooker in future as well as they praised the inspirational performance of the Pakistani cueists at the international level, earning laurels for the country. 

A beaming Asif collected a cheque of Rupees one lac alongwith the winner’s trophy while Shahid received a cheque of Rupees fifty thousand with the runner-up trophy.  

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), described Asif as a living legend. 

“Besides winning the World Championship a couple of times now Asif has also clinched the national title four times and he fully deserves to be regarded as modern snooker legend,” Alamgir Shaikh commended. 

Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, President, PBSA, announced that both Asif and Shahid, by virtue of being the finalists of the Nationals 2020, will now be representing the country in the upcoming Asian Snooker Championship. 

Fawad Malik, President, Karachi Gymkhana, promised to continue supporting the cause of snooker and other sports from the platform of the club.

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February 10, 2020

World champion Asif threatens to quit snooker

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Frustrated by the continued delay and red-tapism in the release of his governmental reward, Muhammad Asif, the reigning world snooker champion, has threatened to quit the sport.

The top officials of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), lending support to their proud product, have talked about taking legal action if the reward amount was not released.

In a dramatic turn of the events, all the participating cueists in the quarter-finals of the Jubilee Insurance 45th National Snooker Championship 2020 sported a black armband to protest against the delay in the release of payment to Asif on February 10. 

Upon the completion of the quarter-finals, Asif, flanked by the top functionaries of the PBSA, addressed the media corps, present on the occasion at the Karachi Gymkhana’s Banquet Hall. 

Initially Asif appeared cool and calm while seeking his due reward of Rs 10 million from the government which had been promised to him by head of the state. 

Apparently he seemed to have been provoked by some teasing queries leading to the change in his tone and body language. 

When asked specifically, during the media briefing, if he would burn his cue, if the reward money was not paid to him, Asif, after some reluctance, opened up and expressed his disgust at having been made to run from pillar to post for the amount the government owed to him. 

“I was not given the due amount when I became the world champion in 2012. Now I have won the world title again last year but still waiting for the reward money to be released from the government. The athletes should not be treated like this as they make a lot of efforts and sacrifices for performing well and bringing laurels to the country,” Asif stated. 

“If the attitude of the government doesn’t change when perhaps I will stop playing snooker at national or international level in near future. I will be left with no other option than to announce retirement from snooker. If I don’t get the due reward then there will be no point in continue playing snooker,” he warned. 

The PBSA President, Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, who is a lawyer by profession, didn’t rule the possibilities of taking the matter to court if Asif’s reward was not released. 

The PBSA Co-Chairman, Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, shared that the President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, had himself given the assurance for the release of due payment during their meeting in Islamabad a few weeks ago. 

“We have been knocking at the doors of the concerned departments from the moment Asif had made the country proud by bringing home the world title for the second time last year. We have approached the Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Dr Fehmida Mirza, as well the Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is a sportsman himself, but we are still waiting,” he explained. 

“The protest of today is meant to basically serve another reminder to the concerned authorities to release the reward money to Asif, the two times world champion,” Alamgir Shaikh declared. 

When inquired about the next possible move, if the payment was further delayed, the PBSA Co-Chairman hinted at holding protest meetings in Islamabad too.

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February 1, 2020

Younis Khan’s punctuality, modesty charms Memon community

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Younis Khan, a former Pakistan captain and the highest run-getter for the country in Test cricket, gladdened the hearts of the participants, guests, dignitaries and organizers of the KMA Sports Gala 2020 during its opening ceremony, in which he was the chief guest, held at the KPT Sports Complex, Karachi, on February 1.

It’s not often that the chief guest, irrespective of his own stature or that of the hosts, arrives right on time but Younis Khan, widely respected for his gentlemanly actions, broke the tradition by reaching the venue of the ceremony at the designated time of 10 am. 

Everyone present on the occasion was pleasantly surprised to watch the batting great enter the KPT Sports Complex in time which allowed the opening ceremony to take place in accordance with the original plan, instead of being forced to alter it because of the delayed arrival of the chief guest.

The colorful opening ceremony of the KMA Sports Gala 2020 was made memorable by the presence of the cricketing heroes of the caliber of Younis Khan, Jalaluddin and Haris Ahmad Khan. 

It seemed to be in the fitness of things that the first-ever sports gala to be organized by the Kutiyana Memon Association (KMA) Education Board was graced by such eminent personalities of the sporting world. 

Jalaluddin, a Test fast bowler, who holds the distinction of recording the first-ever hat-trick in One-day Internationals, is now among the highest qualified cricket coaches of the country.

Both Younis Khan as well as Jalaluddin appeared to be overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the students and teachers of the KMA-run educational institutions which was evidenced by their fabulous display in the opening ceremony. 

The atmosphere at the KPT Sports Complex was nothing short of electric and there were thousands of spectators watching the spectacle at the football ground. 

With more 6,500 students enrolled at the various schools and college of the KMA, it was not surprising to find such big number of people having assembled for the opening ceremony. 

Younis Khan, granted well-deserved hero’s reception upon arrival at the stadium, was full of smiles and praise for the KMA officials to have organized a sports gala in befitting manner. 

“It seems like the Pakistan Day or the Independence Day. It’s wonderful to have such animated surroundings. It’s really lovely to watch the students being so passionate about sports. It augurs well for the country,” Younis Khan declared amidst loud applause. 

Jalaluddin, having trained hundreds of young cricketers at his academies over the years, was also impressed with the initiative and he hoped that it would be beginning of something big for the students of the KMA educational institutions. 

“The organizations like the KMA, who have the infrastructure as well as the resources, can play a vital role in building sports culture in the society. Their students will benefit a great if they could be engaged in competitions and tournaments of sports on a regular basis,” Jalaluddin opined. 

Haris Khan, the tall off-spinner, was appreciative of the decision of the KMA Education Board to launch a sports gala and expressed the hope that it will go on to become an annual event on their calendar in future.

Indeed it's a great beginning as far as the KMA Sports Gala is concerned and judging by the success of its opening ceremony there are strong enough indications of it becoming a regular feature.

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January 10, 2020

Five-day Test should continue unabated

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has done a fantastic job by having finally launched the World Test Championship last year. It has already been hailed as a success story as it seems to possess many ingredients to become a permanent feature in the future. 

Instead of waiting to reap harvests from the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship, due to conclude in the summer of 2023, the governing body of the sport has dropped a kind of bombshell by showing inclination towards having four-day Tests. It’s obviously nonsense of the highest order. Such an idea never merits discussion in an ICC meeting. 

The announcement that the ICC cricket committee will consider making four-day Tests mandatory, as part of the World Test Championship from 2023, has come as a shocker to say the least. 

How dare could the ICC even think of committing such a heinous crime? They have been guilty of doing so many odd things disrespectful to the game and its stature in the past, but contemplating four-day Tests is something beyond ethics. 

Well everyone knows about the priorities of the ICC. There is no element of ‘news’ or anything like that in them thinking about commercialization or more commercialization. 

But ‘killing’ Test cricket in order to free up a calendar, thought to be cramped with too many fixtures and T20 leagues, is something which can only be condemned in the harshest possible way. 

How do the movers and shakers of the ICC lose sight of the fact that its Test cricket which sustained the game since it became global in the 19th century? The limited overs versions arrived much later in the second half of the 20th century. 

And now the ICC, having become a commercial powerhouse, is prepared to temper with Test cricket, which is well and truly disgusting. 

Whoever, within the ICC, has masterminded this idea of reducing the duration of Test matches from five days to four days, is certainly not a friend of the game. Neither that person or may be a group of persons, who are pleading this, could be regarded as the well-wishers of cricket. 

Those having turned millionaires, or even billionaires, because of cricket, should not try to stab the game which is a source of recreation to global audience. 

The Test playing nations, who constitute the ICC, have a rich history of the game and, more than any other format, its Test cricket, yes Test cricket, whose glories have mattered the most to them. 

If the ICC has run out of ideas otherwise for the maximization of their profits, they would be advised to refrain from tabling such horrible proposals which will only be opposed bitterly by the cricket-loving fraternity. 

The marketers or even the administrators pursuing the move at the ICC appear oblivious of the charm and beauty of the fifth day of Test matches. The cricket followers should not be deprived of the rare pleasures of witnessing action-packed fifth day thrillers for financial or commercial reasons. 

Hopefully better sense will prevail at the ICC cricket committee and they will shoot down the proposal even without deliberating on it.

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January 1, 2020

Jubilee General’s new boss pledges to carry on legacy of predecessor’s sporting legacy

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By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The newly installed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Jubilee General Insurance, Hassan Khan, has pledged to carry out the sporting legacy left by his predecessor, Tahir Ahmed, whose illustrious career at the company came to an end on December 31, 2019. 

On the very first day of taking over the leadership of the company on January 1, 2020, Hassan Khan was needed to deliberate on his sports policies during the media launch of the new snooker season, with as many as five national snooker events, being sponsored by Jubilee Insurance, taking place during the next one and a half months. 

“Jubilee has been the major sponsors of Pakistan snooker for the past 13 years. We are proud to have played our due role in uplift of cue sports, resulting in glories for the country at the international level. We look forward to continue extending the support to snooker in future too,” he declared while speaking at the luncheon media briefing at the Karachi Gymkhana Banquet Hall on the New Year Day. 

When specifically questioned whether he would continue the policies of his immediate predecessor, Tahir Ahmed, who was proactive in the promotion of sports over the years, Hassan Khan replied in the affirmative and announced his desire to perpetuate the legacy. 

He acknowledged that the modest prize money, being offered to the outstanding performers of the various tournaments at the moment, merited enhancement in the future. 

Replying to another question, he, however, ruled out the possibilities of offering employment to the cueists at his company, explaining that no such policy had ever been under consideration in board meetings. 

Jubilee Insurance, it may be recalled, had joined hands with the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) in a big way, by having sponsored the 24th ACBS Asian Snooker Championship at Karachi in 2007 when the national snooker body was being led by Ali Asghar Valika. 

From the following year onwards they took up the sponsorship of the national ranking tournaments as well and the relationship became stronger and wider with the passage of time. 

They have been the major sponsors of snooker in Pakistan for the past one decade and during this period they have been motivating force in launching the tournaments for the teenagers and schoolboys in particular in the recent past. 

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA, recognized the overwhelming support of Jubilee Insurance, whose continued patronage, he added, helped enormously in raising the standard of snooker. 

"Both the twin companies, Jubilee General Insurance and Jubilee Life Insurance, have been extremely supportive to the cause of snooker for the past 13 years and they deserve to be credited for the glories our cueists have earned for the country over the past decade and a half,” he added. 

"The new helmsman of Jubilee General Insurance, Hassan Khan, is also very eager to support the cause of snooker and the sponsorship budget for the current year (2020) has been approved by him," Alamgir Shaikh disclosed.

Meanwhile the new snooker season will dawn with the Jubilee Insurance 2nd Under-16 National Snooker Championship 2020 on January 4 and it will be followed by the Jubilee Insurance 5th Under-18 National Snooker Championship 2020, the Jubilee Insurance 12th Under-21 National Snooker Championship 2020 and the Jubilee Insurance 4th Over-40 National Masters Snooker Championship 2020. 

All these events will be staged at the PSB Sports Complex in Islamabad while the Jubilee Insurance 45th National Snooker Championship 2020 will be taking place at the Karachi Gymkhana from January 31 to February 12.

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