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Bolingbrook man named to national cricket team

Created: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 3:37 p.m. CDT

BOLINGBROOK – Bolingbrook resident Fahad Babar was recently named to the United States cricket world cup team and will represent his country during qualifiers from Nov. 15 to Nov. 30 in the United Arab Emirates.

During the week of Oct. 27, Babar, 21, was called upon to replace Steve Messiah, a batsman and team captain who unexpectedly withdrew from qualifying action.

After formal approval from the International Cricket Council, Babar is and his 14 teammates will soon jet to Abu Dhabi, where they will vie for one of six spots in seeds in next year's World Cup.

For Babar, the selection is a dream come true and the fruition of years of diligent work and athletic training.

"The anticipation is a little nerve-wracking, but I am mostly excited," Babar said. "This is what I've dreamt of for so long – to represent my country at the World Cup – it's what every player aspires to accomplish.

"This is not only a great opportunity to showcase my skills, but to also boost the sport in the United States and put American cricket on the map."

Babar's cricket career dates back to when he was 5 years old playing pick-up cricket in streets and alleyways of his native, Karachi, Pakistan. There, he played with teenagers and men four and five times times his age, standing his ground in the pitch and rapidly improving as a player.

He credits his three brothers, who realized from a young age that Babar had natural talent and pushed him to improve and mature.

Soon, the young batsman became a spectacle in Karachi, as residents would come to watch the 5-year-old phenom take on the elder competition, according to Babar.

"My old neighborhood inspired me, made me passionate about the sport," Babar said. "There, everyone plays, talks about and lives cricket. The older players didn't take it easy on me, either. I learned some tough lessons, but I am a better player because of it."

When he was 14, Babar's family emigrated to the United States and settled in Bolingbrook after his father accepted a position at a growing IT company in the western suburbs.

For two years, Babar rarely picked up a cricket bat because of fringe popularity.

"I was a little worried," Babar said. "Compared to Pakistan, cricket isn't that relevant in the United States. When I first moved here, I didn't know think there were any local cricket leagues."

But his brother's friends soon notified him about the burgeoning Bolingbrook Premiere League and Midwest Cricket Conference.

Since then, he has played for four years with multiple teams in Bolingbrook and the surrounding area. Babar has also traveled and played in regional cricket tournaments and national competitions in New York and Dallas.

His stellar batting skills resonated with national cricket coaches. Babar was originally named to the 15-man World Cup qualifier roster, but was then replaced when the roster was shuffled.

Now a permanent fixture on the roster, Babar is excited to again prove his worth.

"It's the chance of a lifetime and I will make the most of it," Babar said. "It's going to be a lot of fun, I just want to play my best and hopefully help my team advance through the qualifying stages."