Lahore Qalandars’ Ambidextrous Bowling Prodigy Going to MCC

The Pakistan Super League team from Lahore, the Lahore Qalandars initiated a talent hunt canvassing all of Punjab in its first year of inception and set the bar high for anyone wanting to attempt such a comprehensive activity in the future. This hunt, dubbed the “Rising Stars” initiative, returned fruits of over 113,000 registrations from aspiring talent at eight locations across Punjab. “When we bought this franchise, the vision was to one day conduct such a massive activity on an annual basis that would one day form the pipeline to not only Pakistan cricket but a pathway to a brighter, greater Pakistan through empowered youth. We now stand at the threshold of being able to do so sustainably and I am proud of the team who has made this happen and trust they will only grow it further,” said a beaming Fawad Rana, owner of the Lahore Qalandars, when contacted for comment on the Rising Stars.
An activity spanning almost two months across the eight stations took its toll but also gave the team some spectacular talent. “Each one on the organizing team lost at least a stone during the hunt but it has been worth it – we found gems like Irfan and Yasir, and rediscovered some the system had lost too. I believe this Rising Stars initiative will continue on to become Pakistan’s future pipeline of cricket talent,” Aqib Javed, Director of Cricket for Lahore Qalandars added about the event.
During the Rising Stars talent hunt, of the total players registered, the selected few are put into squads of 16 to form a team representing each city. The best of these 128 aspirants in 2016 were selected to form a match-tested 16-person squad to represent the Lahore Qalandars Rising Stars in an unprecedented and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Sydney and participate in a tri-series against the best youth players from the region as well as play in the Emirates Twenty20. Four of these Rising Stars got the chance to be part of PSL 2016 – M. Irfan, Jr., Saif Badar, Ghulam Muddassar and Usman Qadir, of whom Irfan, a brick-maker from Faisalabad, featured in 7 of a total of 8 Qalandars matches!
Jazz and PCB along with Royal Palm supported the initiative and played a major role in empowering the talented youth of Punjab, to the extent that the Final ceremony Chief Guest, Chief Minister Punjab, Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif, lauded the effort as tremendous, even citing as an activity the scale of which governments execute.
Through this talent hunt, the Lahore Qalandars came across a unique bowler, Yasir Jan – the first ambidextrous quick bowler of Pakistan. A mercurial individual who is able to bowl exceptionally quick with both hands with great intent without any formal coaching, the Qalandars saw an opportunity to nurture and develop this talent into something potentially great for the nation. In a continuation of that vision, Yasir Jan is now being sent for a cricket grooming and training program in Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Watford Town Cricket Club where his skills will be harnessed and he will receive extensive cricket training from the best the cricketing world has to offer at the home of cricket. CEO of Lahore Qalandars, Atif Rana, speaking on Yasir Jan, had this to say: “Yasir is a special talent, the only ambidextrous fast bowler of Pakistan. His development is extremely important to both us as well as to Pakistani cricket. Not every individual with raw talent is discovered, and even less so, encouraged. We want to ensure Yasir has every opportunity to develop as a cricketer and an individual hone his unique talent. Our alliance with MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) allows us to send him to England for that development and cricket training.”