Noida: Saba Karim, the former India and Bengal wicketkeeper, has launched a coaching academy at Noida's Genesis Global School. The Saba Karim Genesis Pro Cricket Centre, a well-equipped cricket academy with state-of-the-art practice facilities, will open its doors in mid-July on the campus grounds with a focus on grooming young talent in the right direction.
Attending the inauguration of the academy was Virender Sehwag, in the capacity of chief guest. "This is a commendable effort from Saba Karim, a cricketer whom I made my international debut with in 1999 and with whom I played at the national level. I cannot think of anyone better to launch a cricket academy than Saba. I wish him and the academy well," Sehwag said.
Karim, who played 34 ODIs and one Test before an eye injury cut short his career, said he would focus on teaching his students the basics of all the three formats of the game despite the prevalence of Twenty20 cricket today. "It is important for young players to be prepared to play all three formats, though I will stress on first getting them to get their techniques right. If they have their basics right, they can be taught anything. I have two respected coaches on my staff and have other certified coaches who will hold clinics here."
Ajay Jadeja, the former India batsman, reminisced on his days sharing a room on tour with Karim. "We had some great times together, and I really learned a lot from Saba. I consider Saba a close friend and very fine cricketer. The students at this academy are blessed to have a person like him at the helm of affairs. I have no doubt that the students who hone their skills under Saba will be fine products of this academy, for he is a master of his craft."
The well-attended inauguration ceremony had in attendance several former players, team-mates and friends of Karim. They included Gursharan Singh, who played one Test for India and also led Punjab to the Ranji Trophy title in 1992-93, former India and Delhi fast bowler Vivek Razdan and former Bihar captain Hari Gidwani. Delhi and Kings XI Punjab pacer Parwinder Awana and Unmukt Chand, the India Under-19 captain, were also present.
Film and theatre actor Tom Alter, also a member of the Genesis Global School's advisory board, commended Karim and the school's sports director Gurbeer Singh – father of ace marksman Manavjit Singh Sandhu - for their work while praising Sehwag for his achievements as an Indian cricketer.
Before the inauguration, a friendly match was played on the spacious field of the Genesis campus, between a Saba Karim XI and representatives of the media.