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Historical Article

A True Friend of Bangladesh Cricket

K. Z. Islam

March 17, 2005

It is generally not known what a good friend Omar Kureishi was of Bangladesh Cricket.

I remember when I was the Presi-dent of BCB in the early 80s I had made a statement in December 1985 reported in the Khaleej Times that none of the sub-continental countries were helping Bangladesh cricket.

Soon after the publication of this statement a suave gentleman arrived in my house one evening without appointment and introduced himself as Omar Kureishi. He challenged me about my statement in the press. I not only confirmed the statement but also gave him a piece of my mind. He took it all gracefully and asked me if he could make a call to London. I was not amused as I did not want my telephone bill to clock up with other people's personal calls. Omar then said he wanted to call Imran Khan which got me interested. Luckily Omar got Imran on the first dial and from the tone of his conversation I gathered the close relationship he had with Imran.

Omar asked Imran if he could bring the Pakistan Test Team to Bangladesh. The request coming from Omar it seemed to me was taken by Imran as an order. Within a month the Omar Kureishi's XI was in Dhaka. The team led by Imran was practically the Pakistani Test Team and included stars like Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja, Salim Malik, Abdul Qadir and Sarfraz Nawaz. The Dhaka stadium was packed and to the best of my knowledge that was the only occasion when Imran was seen playing in Bangladesh. For the week's duration that the Pakistan team was in Dhaka the players spent practically every evening at my house and thus began my close association with Omar. After that Omar visited Bangladesh several times.

My good friend Jamil Ansari employed Omar in Karachi as a Public Relations Director, a post he continued to hold till his indisposition. Every time I visited Karachi I would spend hours sitting with Omar in his office.

Another moment that comes to my mind was during the first SAARC Summit held in Dhaka in 1986. Although Bangladesh did not have either the Test or ODI status I wanted to arrange a tour to Pakistan for the Bangladesh Team. Many visits to the PCB office in Karachi failed to convince them to invite Bangladesh. During the SAARC Summit I was invited to the reception at the Pakistan Embassy where Pakistan's then President Ziaul Huq and Lt. Gen. Mujibur Rahman, the Pakistan Sports Minister were present. Omar was also there. He asked me to broach the subject with the Pakistan Sports Minister. I went up to him with Omar and tried to bring up the subject of the tour. Gen. Mujib being from the army had many of his former colleagues in the Bangladesh Army. Before I could finish a sentence we would be interrupted by army officers saying hello to the General. This carried on for practically half an hour. Omar kept on telling me not to move before I had finished making the request.

Finally, I got my chance and Gen Mujib immediately agreed to host a Bangladesh team. He went across to President Ziaul Huq and informed him about our cricket team. The President also gave his green signal. Thus followed the first visit by a Bangladesh cricket team to Pakistan. The Team was given full status and hospitality accorded to Test Teams. Incidentally, the host was not the PCB but the Sports Ministry of Pakistan.

Omar was indeed a very good friend and a well wisher of the Bangladesh cricket and quite often mentioned it in his regular syndicated columns.

The writer is a former president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

Copyright by Daily Star


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