SYED, AKTHAR MASOON
A long-time player, selector and administrator for the game in the U.S., Syed is a shy and quietly spoken man with a long list of achievements in cricket, which he reluctantly talks about. A retired physiotherapist, he needs to be prodded to discuss his association with the game in the U.S.
Born in Delhi, India, after independence his family moved to Pakistan in 1948 and he grew up in Karachi. He played in the inter-collegiate competition with DJ College under captain Sallah Uddin Ballea and former Test player Nasim ul Ghani. In 1967, he was chosen to play with the Pakistan Central Zone in a match in Sailkot against a Commonwealth XI led by legendary Australian all-rounder and captain Richie Benaud.
A genuine cricket lover from his childhood days, he has been a tireless worker with one aim – to help the USA reach a higher level in the game and play against the world’s best.
Over the years, Syed, 64, who now lives with two daughters Arshiya and Zanobia (a NCAA tennis player) in Glendale Heights, a Chicago suburb, has helped organize free youth clinics in various suburbs, located fields for local cricket clubs in the area and had a hand in forming eight leagues in the Central East Region of the U.S.
When he first became involved in cricket in Chicago, there were only seven clubs in the area. Now there are 170. During his tenure he helped the Central East Region to have the highest paid membership in the United States Cricket Association.
Chidambar Joshi, who is also involved in Chicago cricket, said: “Masood quietly works hard behind the scenes. He is a leader, gets the job done and does not believe in hogging the limelight.”
But there is more to Syed than cricket. He has run in the Chicago marathon (26.2 miles) 12 times with a personal best of three hours and 34 minutes. His family has set up charities, which he plays a small role in to help the less fortunate in Karachi, Pakistan and Bosnia.
In 1979, Syed met the Queen while representing the U.S. team in the ICC Trophy tournament in England. “She asked where I was from in the U.S. and I said Chicago,” he said. He also had a chance to meet Crown Prince Hasan of Jordan in 1999 at the Lord’s cricket field during the final of Cricket World Cup. Syed was a special guest of the English Cricket Board at that time.