Ajmal is looking to groom and develop the next generation of Pakistani cricketers
Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal has opened his own elite cricket academy at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad.
The R70 million ($720,000 approx) multi-facility academy will stretch over 18 acres of land and is scheduled to be completed in two to three years time.
Ajmal is reported to have provided R10 million ($102,000 approx), while the Pakistani government confirmed that they will fund the rest of the project.
The lucrative academy will include both indoor and outdoor practice schools, a lodging facility, swimming pool and a floodlit ground.
Speaking about the project, Ajmal stated that he wanted to help develop and groom Pakistan’s next generation of cricketers, especially young spinners.
“I have experienced tough days early in my career but with this facility nobody will have to go through a difficult time,” Ajmal said. “I want to groom the enormous talent in the country without fee. I don’t want the players to suffer the ordeal I did in coming to this stage.”
Ajmal burst onto the international scene at the age of 30, which is very late, but he has already made up for lost time, having taken 122 wickets in 23 Tests at an outstanding average of 27.09.
He also has 117 ODI wickets to his name and is currently atop the wicket-takers list in Twenty20 Internationals with 71.
When asked about the reason behind the decision to build a cricket academy, Ajmal noted that he wanted to give “youngsters an opportunity to follow in my footsteps”.
While cricket is definitely the most popular sport in Pakistan, there has been a lack of it since the Sri Lankan team was attacked by militants in March 2009.
Since that day, no international team have come to Pakistan and the national team have had to play their ‘home’ series in the United Arab Emirates.
Ajmal noted that his academy was there to help those who could not help themselves and believes that Pakistan’s cricketing future will only get brighter from here on.
“The idea is to find the talent and give them all the necessary to groom [their skills],” Ajmal said. “They will be paid for their livelihood and we will help develop those who have been marginalised and unable to thrive for many reasons.”