O’zbekiston Kriket Federatsiyasi (Cricket Federation of Uzbekistan)
CRICKET IN UZBEKISTAN
Cricket is a nascent sport in the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan. An ex-Soviet Republic, the country is more synonymous with mosques, mausoleums and other historical sites associated with the famous Silk Road, an ancient trade route which connected China with the Middle East. Regardless, Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent has borne witness to annual cricket games since 1997, when the Indian employees of Core Pharmsanoat (an Indo-Uzbek health care company) started organising cricket matches amongst themselves.
The first notable cricket event took place in 1999, when a British Embassy Team played against an aptly named ‘Commonwealth XI’ featuring players from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. The annual fixtures have continued since then but have been restricted exclusively to the expatriate community with the native Uzbek population taking very little interest in the sport.
However, the sport has recently picked up momentum with the formal registration of the Cricket Federation of Uzbekistan in December 2019. At present, there are about 280 formal freshman players learning basic cricket skills. Out of this group, the Federation have formed two new teams called ‘Barlos’ and ‘Afrosiyob’.
In November 2020, these two teams squared off in a series of T20 games, with Barlos eventually taking out the ANFA Tashkent T20 Tournament. This was a historic moment for the sport in the country; being the first time that an officially sanctioned tournament took place with indigenous Uzbek participation. The games received national media coverage and were played under the watchful eyes of the National Olympic Committee leadership, along with representatives of the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports and the Uzbekistan Cricket Federation.
The Federation’s future aspirations include increasing participation numbers throughout the country and gaining Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and International Cricket Council (ICC) membership. Furthermore, they are collaborating with their Central Asian neighbours Tajikistan and Kazakhstan for mutual cricket development in the region.