Three decades back, there was a lot of furore about efforts and dedication in Zanzibar to revive cricket, once a popular sport in the islands, which was dying a slow death.
Many people, young and old, of all ethnic groups, used to play cricket on the islands and there were several school teams and more than 10 clubs for this sport before the 1964 Revolution.
Zanzibar had outstanding batsmen wicket-keepers and medium and fast bowlers who won the admiration of the fans in and outside the islands. Some of them were permanent members of the East African cricket team.
Today, that is part of the sad history of this game which used to be played in open spaces, school grounds, and official cricket pitches.
However, there are now hopes for its revival so as to start the exercise of reclaiming the isles lost glory in cricket.
The President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, Dr. Hussein Mwinyi, has commended the JHL Enterprises construction from India for completing the construction of the cricket oval which is part of the recent sports arena in the isles.
He applauded the firm’s Managing Director, Jilesh Himat Babla, for designing an oval cricket pitch of international standards besides other multi-sports courts and grounds at the center which will be constructed at Fumba, Unguja West “B” District.
According to Dr.Mwinyi, the sports center besides hosting several indoor and outdoor games, it will be one of the favorite tourist destinations in Zanzibar.
He said the center will be used to advertise the isles tourist attractions of both Unguja and Pemba.
Babla assured the government that his firm will continue to cooperate with the Zanzibar through the responsible ministry to ensure the project is successfully executed and his firm will continue to diligently serve well both the sports and tourism sectors.
The minister for Information, youth, culture, and sports, Tabia Maulid Mwita, said when the facility is completed it will apart from providing the people with leisure also serve thousands of tourists.
The Indian encourage in the isles involved popular global cricket stars from Europe and India, according to the statement issued from the Zanzibar state house.
Cricket used to be an important part of the way of life for many islanders, especially those living in towns and their suburbs.
Unfortunately, the sports were in recent years considered an exclusive game, one reserved for certain groups in the Zanzibar society.
There have been several attempts to promote sports in recent years, but there have been no fruitful results. In September there was a tour of exhibition matches by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) of England.
But having good cricket pitches is not enough exercise to promote cricket in Zanzibar. This must run parallel with a campaign in schools and in the media, as well as getting the sports gear and popularizing the game.
Investing in England during the Saxon and Norman times, cricket is much older than most of the more popular spectator sports today.
There were times when it was officially the most popular sport around the world most notably in the 18th century when England had popularized it across all its colonies.
Nowadays the sport has faded away in most of the former British colonies except India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the islands of the Caribbean, and a few African countries.
The international cricket council is the world governing body of cricket. It was founded as the imperial cricket conference in 1909 by representatives from Australia, England, and South Africa. It was renamed the international cricket conference in 1965 and took up its current name in 1987. The international cricket council has its headquarters in Dubai, UAE.
Zanzibar as part of Tanzania is among members of the International cricket council.