Scarborough cricketers play way to Dubai

It’s the chance of a lifetime for a few lucky local cricket players — an experience taking them on a world adventure.

Legendary Pakistani cricketer Mudassar Nazar visited the Canadian Cricket Academy on March 31, hosting auditions to select 10 to 15 talented players for a training program in Dubai.

They will be given the opportunity to train with high-tech equipment in world-class facilities for two weeks.

For Malvern cricketers, this type of opportunity will elevate their athletic abilities to an elite level, Nazar says.

“If these guys are given the exposure, they’ll surely be some of the best in the world. You’ve got to provide them with the opportunity,” said Nazar.

The chance to train with Nazar is a rare opportunity in itself. Known as one of cricket’s most influential figures, Nazar has coached the national teams of Pakistan and Kenya. At the academy, he’s looking to find the next generation of players.

“The players here are pretty good,” he said. “The thing is, working in programs like this, it’s dawned on me that these kids were actually as good as the Pakistani kids back home, or the Indian kids or the English kids. I’m really impressed.”

The academy has dozens of youth playing the sport on a regular basis. Since Malvern has seen a growth in popularity for cricket, the sport has done more than provide an outlet for physical activity.

Nazar understands the other significance a game like cricket can have on one’s life. As he demonstrated tricks and skills for those hoping to make the cut, he spoke about the way cricket has changed him.

“It’s given me a damn good lifestyle. It’s given me prominence. It feels very good when people recognize you in a strange setting. But it’s made me a better person. Looking at the world go by, you pick up all the good and bad things about different cultures and I feel rather fortunate that I was able to do that.”

In the coming weeks, the Ontario Cricket Association and International Cricket Council, including Nazar, will decide the fortunate cricketers to take part in the training excursion. Over 45 talented players from mostly Ontario and Quebec have been selected, so far.

The advice Nazar would give to those eager to travel the world playing the game they love?

“If I’m walking by and I see a group of kids playing cricket I just can’t move. I just stand and watch them just because that’s been my whole life and because I love the game so much. They must have the passion. They must love the game.”