9th December 2010, 19:29
PakPassion.Net: Ali Bhai, many thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
Ali Ehsan: Asalamalakium Sajid and all the fans of PakPassion. Thank you very for your time and thank you to all the PakPassion members who support Boom Boom, Pakistan Cricket and cricket all around the world.
PakPassion.Net: We all have heard about the name Boom Boom, obviously emanating from the famous slogan of Shahid Afridi, but there is not a lot that people know about the company itself or about yourself. Could you give us a bit of background about yourself and how you got involved with Boom Boom?
Ali Ehsan: I am originally from Peshawar, north of Pakistan. I moved to the UK in 2006 and started the business of selling cricket equipment. My background is manufacturing, I did my Undergraduate in Engineering and after moving to England I did my masters in International Business. Currently I am studying at Oxford University doing a second masters in major programme management, which is a very tough course. I am also a lecturer at Coventry University where I am teaching Global Business and Strategic Management.
As far as your question about Boom Boom, well Boom Boom the name is a very different and a buzz name for cricket and it has got multiple angles. One of the reasons for selecting the name Boom Boom was it is not just a name but it is a legacy and approach of how you play cricket . If you go back and look at the history of cricket you will see quite a lot of extraordinary superstars playing with that Boom Boom philosophy and the Boom Boom approach where they dont give up, they go and attack and they keep on trying. For example if you look at West Indian cricket you've got Sir Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes. If you look at Pakistan you have Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and obviously Shahid [Afridi] now. Look at New Zealand you have Richard Hadlee, for India you have Kapil Dev and so many others, in Australia Dean Jones.
If you look at the contemporary and current players you will see Shahid Afridi obviously and Razzaq, if you remember the recent match between South Africa and Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, after Razzaq's brilliant century off 70 odd balls against South Africa, the next day Razzaq was backed as the new Boom Boom player and even Afridi said he is the new Boom Boom player. In India you have Dhoni and Yuvraj.
So it is a legacy that has been going on for quite some time, certain commentators and journalists started using the word Boom Boom and it got linked with Afridi and obviously Afridi is a big big Boom Boom player but, after his retirement it wont stop there, it will keep on going on. You have [Abdul] Razzaq and other players coming in so by no means Afridi's retirement will be the last, you are not seeing the last big hitting player in the cricket field, there will be more Boom Boom players.
Another reason to pick the name was purely business reasons, if you look at all the cricket brands they are all not cricketing names. Boom Boom is now a part of cricketing vocabulary, so it gives us a lot of marketing when commentators mention it and we get quite a lot of mileage out of it. If you look at the philosophy, the philosophy of our team and Boom Boom is freedom to play, we encourage the players to play on the front foot, go and face the attack and never give up. It stands for double power, double strike and keep on bouncing back, so it is a very aggressive name, an aggressive brand, a buzz name and a fresh change in cricket.
PakPassion.Net: We have seen the kits with your slogan and logo on the Pakistan shirts, now when the players have used the actual kits themselves what sort of feedback have you had, both positive and negative from the players and coaches who are using the kits on a daily basis?
Ali Ehsan: We are trying to provide them with the best fabric which is available in Pakistan and in China. Player feedback and management feedback is excellent as far as the fabric is concerned.
Designing is a part which we dont have much failure. The designs which we showed them before T20 World Cup were totally different but it was decided by, at that time it was Mr Yawar Saeed and Shafqat Rana who changed the design and they said we have the responsibility and we have the rights to choose the design, and as kit suppliers you can only provide and choose the fabric. So we have taken quite a lot of criticism about colour and design from people who didnt like it but it was not our design.
The fabric, yes we take full responsibility for. We do send to the PCB various designs, we also take on board designs sent to us from various fans and also fans from PakPassion but the final selection authority for designs is the PCB.
PakPassion.Net: What about going forward, will the final authority still be with the PCB management with regards to the actual design? Say for example the shirts for 2011 World Cup, will that still rest with the PCB?
Ali Ehsan: It will because they are the final authority since they are the main cricket board of Pakistan and they govern every angle of cricket. From our point of view, personally as far as Pakistan cricket is concerned it is a matter of national pride.
I have discussed this at various occasions and various forums with the PCB management that it will be really great if I can get the teams final players list at least 6 weeks before, so I can develop all the designs and fabrics in China. Unfortunately the teams are only announced 10 days or maximum 1 week before the tour starts. That gives us very little time to go abroad and do the manufacturing so we are restricted to the fabrics available in mainland Pakistan, which are no less than any other fabric but we still want to provide them with the best.
What we have done for this World Cup  is taken all the designs from our fans and we have got our own in house design section, if you look at our pads and bats and logo's they are all designed with a lot of care and focusing which gives us quite a lot of differentiation. If you look at any other cricket bat and look at a Boom Boom bat in a store, our bat looks different, it is simple but it also stands out and this is what we want to do with the cricket kit. But we can only suggest designs, the PCB can either accept it 100%or reject it 100%, they have the right to come up with their own design, so it depends on the management. So we have proposed some designs to them and if they allow us, we will forward the designs to you (PakPassion) and take your views on board as well
PakPassion.Net: So what you are saying, just to clarify, is that you give the PCB a group of designs and then they come back and say okay we will take either this one or they will come back and say we dont want any of those and this is our choice, they can basically come up with their own design?
Ali Ehsan: Yes, exactly, this is what happens. The kit that they are wearing at the moment has nothing to do with our design, our design was entirely different but the PCB said they didnt like it so obviously they have the final authority and we said fine. So we provided them with the designs that they had chosen, the management at that point had designed something different so we had to follow their instructions.
PakPassion.Net: Looking at your biggest customers outside of the Pakistan Cricket Board, are your providing kits for any other sports teams or any other businesses?
Ali Ehsan: The Pakistan Cricket Board isnt exactly a customer, we have signed a contract with them, we are endorsed and sponsored to the Pakistan cricket team for a length of 2 years.
We are also very keen on developing cricket and we want cricket to grown in other parts of the world, and we have provisionally signed an MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] with the Kenyan Cricket Board, their CEO was in London and we had a very good meeting with them last month, and in this World Cup you will see our kits will be, our logo's will be on the Kenyan cricket team for their pool matches in the World Cup. We are also in negotiations with other up and coming countries like the USA, Afghanistan, Middle East countries and Scotland.
PakPassion.Net: Now putting on your marketing head, if somebody came to you and asked what makes Boom Boom's brand special compared to other Pakistani brands in the market, how would you describe or how would you say this is why Boom Boom is special compared to others?
Ali Ehsan: This is a very, very good and valid question because, first of all Boom Boom is not exactly a, I am from Pakistan and I am very proud of it, I am a nationalist and I love my country and that is my land but the company is registered and listed in the United Kingdom. So it is not technically a Pakistan brand, however if it is considered a Pakistan brand then I feel proud of it.
If you want to look at the comparisons, what differentiates us from Pakistani brands, we are more global now, we have received more global coverage as compared to any other Pakistan brand. There has been a lot of perseverance, a lot of interviews, even Wisden did a lot of coverage for us and it is still going on.
If you talk about the core competences of our brand we believe in differentiation. If you look at our website, it is entirely different to any other brand. If you look at our products, we believe in lighter and stronger products, our bats are extremely powerful, very bulky at the meat and the middle is extremely sweet and powerful but the pickup and balance is extremely light. The bat that you see Shahid [Afridi] using or Razzaq is using, it may look like a 2lb 14/15/16 but actually they are all about 2lb 10 because we have spent a lot of time with our designers, and we have designed the weight distribution, the purpose of the wood and everything is extremely focused after a lot of research. If you look at our pads, I think our pads are the lightest in the cricket market, they are around 700 grams per pad, if you look at any other brand they are all over 800 grams.
If you look at the way cricket is changing, it is all about fitness, quick running between the wickets. and we have worked on removing weight from the kit. With all these cameras in place and micro second run outs, I think weight plays a major role so we are focussed towards good quality, strong but light.
PakPassion.Net: The Boom Boom players are predominantly Pakistani and it is interesting that you are building relationships with Non-Pakistani players. Could you give us some of the Non-Pakistani players you have signed and perhaps are in negotiation with a view of signing them in future?
Ali Ehsan: Obviously when we signed Shahid, we added Umar Gul, Fawad Alam, Abdul Razzaq. We had Amir but due to the unfortunate incident, he is no longer signed with us. We went to the last trade show in England. We had already signed Hamish Marshall and Sean Irvine. Unfortunately there are no English players available until after the World Cup next year, so we are quite limited with our international options at the moment in England. But we are in negotiation with top Boom Boom style okayers in the West Indies, Sri Lanka and even India. Going back to your previous question regarding your Pakistan brand or global brand we take off as a global brand and thats why we want to take a portfolio of top players from around the world in the next couple of years.
PakPassion.Net: I understand if you can't answer this question Ali Bhai but is Kieron Pollard one of the West Indian players you are possibly signing?
Ali Ehsan: We are not only him but we were close to signing Chris Gayle. Unfortunately we did at that time when he was coming out of contract from Ihsan at that time and he scored a brilliant triple century, so yes Pollard is no doubt a big Boom Boom player. Gayle is another, but it all depends on when their current contracts are ending and when they become available.
PakPassion.Net: How are Boom Boom building a positive relationship with the PCB and also with the fans in the street?
Ali Ehsan: As far Pakistan Cricket Board is concerned, my Boom Boom team takes a lot of pride of the fact that this is our national cricket board and we are doing our best to provide all kind of services, including marketing opportunities. We helped them as we felt it was a good chance for PCB to make some serious money because of lots of marketing rights and we offered them our service because we have estabslihed some very good contacts.
We told them if you want to generate some revenue then I think they should bring cricket in England and then converting that revenue to Pakistani rupees, therefore the Pakistan board will earn more in England from endorsements in England rather than Pakistan. So we offered them our services but at that point of time they thought that they wanted to go ahead with their own choices. However anything else they require than kit any support they require we are always open. We don't look at this relationship as us and them instead we look as we. So we think we sit on same side of table rather than opposite ends. So I think that is the key for a good relationship. There are certain issues, there are certain misunderstandings, and certain points which need to be hammered out, but at the moment everything is under control. As far our fans are concerned we try to respond to anyone who comes and I personally respond to the emails especially those about the kit and my apologies to the fans when I sometimes cannot respond quickly due to my hectic schedule.
PakPassion.Net: Your website link is obviously on PakPassion and a lot of people are visiting your website after seeing the banner. Are you planning in launching an online store or you are happy for the likes of PakPassion selling your equipment on your behalf?
Ali Ehsan: We are a brand, but not an online retailer. We are opening up accounts with retailers, including PakPassion. We want them to sell our products, so we will just provide guidance on our products. Over the next couple of weeks you will see on the Boom Boom website a new range of product photographs.
Our job is to put the awareness of our products out there and to update the blogs of the players, but we are not selling anything online directly. We have online retailers such Howzat Cricket, PakPassion, Barrington etc.
PakPassion.Net: What about your cricket bats specifically for tape ball, do Boom Boom cricket manufacture those?
Ali Ehsan: Yes, we are about to launch those as well.
PakPassion.Net: Any idea when you will be launching the Tape Ball Bats?
Ali Ehsan: Actually we are working on a very important project in Pakistan which is being piloted in Karachi where we are instead of buying a cricket ground or acquiring a cricket ground and turning it into a cricket academy, what we are doing is that we are opening Boom Boom cricket academies starting from Karachi and then going to all other cities. So the children's range is going to be introduced soon. But the tape ball cricket equipment will be released with launch of our Boom Boom cricket academy.
PakPassion.Net: For an average fan on the street who plays club cricket, school cricket, college cricket etc obviously the price of a cricket bat is very important. Now your bats are priced highly compared to other brands. Is there a reason for this because of the quality of the wood or there are other reasons behind this?
Ali Ehsan: Yes, initially last year we only launched 250 bats in England. And I am talking strictly from England point of view and those were signature range top bats, grade one, elite willows. Now we are about to launch three ranges, one range which is used by Shahid Afridi which is called Signature. Signature has three price boats, Signature 175. 175 is the strike rate, so 175 is the compact bat. Then we have 150 and then Signature 130. Then we have the Red and Black range which is used by Umar Gul and Razzaq. Its called the blaze and again we have blaze 175, 150 and 130. And it comes with all weights and comes with matching pads and gloves. So we have red and black matching pads and gloves with the range. The third range which is mainly for batsmen. Black and gold is for Shahid [Afridi]. Red and Black is for bowling all rounders like Razzaq and Gul. The blue range is for batsmen. So at the moment Hamish Marshall, Fawad Alam and for a few matches Shahzaib used it. So again it also has three price boats 175, 150 and 130.
All bats are priced from 275 Pounds and goes all the way down.
PakPassion.Net: Will you be making some other bats as well in the future, say for the non professional cricketers, like the club cricketers?
Ali Ehsan: Yes, yes. We have the bats for all ranges, from school cricket, since we have developed the academy cricket and we are very focused at developing cricket at various angles, globally, in England and in Pakistan at grass root levels so obviously they require a Boom Boom product, so they will be available across all the range at various price points.
PakPassion.Net: Boom Boom is well known in cricketing circles but are you thinking about or maybe even already making kits for other sports, say for example Hockey, Squash or Tennis players?
Ali Ehsan: Boom Boom cricket as you have already seen has been launched. A couple of former Olympians are working very closely with us, Qamar Ibrahim and Shahbaz from Pakistan, we are in talks with a couple of Indian, German and Holland Hockey players. Once we have stabilised the cricket market, we are going to launch Boom Boom hockey, again it will all be around differentiation, light sticks, light materials but strong.
PakPassion.Net: Lets hope you can help in the revitalisation of Hockey in Pakistan with that
Ali Ehsan: Yeah, we seriously hope that and today is a good time because we qualified for the final [Hockey mens final at the 2010 Asian Games] so hopefully it will be good news.
PakPassion.Net: On PakPassion we had some fantastic designs with regards to the new kit prior to it's launch. I dont know if you got a chance to see any of those designs when they were emailed to your colleagues. What did you think of those designs?
Ali Ehsan: I have not only seen those designs but I have worked very closely with our designers and our design team on those designs. One of them went to the PCB for approval, and I want to thank all the suppliers and all the supporters and all the people who worked hard to give those designs, we really appreciate the input from the fans but like I said earlier the decison is not mine. It is not my personal team playing, it is the national team playing and the control and the regulatory authority is the Pakistan Cricket Board, I am just a kit provider.
The designs of my bat, yes I am directly responsible. The designs of my pads, yes that is my decision or rather my teams decision. The input I get for the kits from the fans is something we appreciate and we are honoured, not only from PakPassion but various other forums as well, we want them and we want you guys to keep on contacting us and sending us all these beautiful and lovely designs, we take them on board but the final decision is with the Pakistan Cricket Board
PakPassion.Net: Mohammad Amir has lost his contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board and at the moment he is not available for selection, there has been a lot of controversy regarding the spot fixing allegations which obviously we wont go into with yourself but purely from Boom Boom's perspective, do you think the decision to remove him as a brand ambassador was premature or were you that upset with what the allegations were that you felt he had to be removed as a brand ambassador even before his hearing has been heard?
Ali Ehsan: There are two things I want to clarify. Number one, I have nothing personal against Amir, I am a big, big Amir fan and I have been ever since he was tied up as a Boom Boom player because you could see another Imran Khan or rather Wasim Akram in the making. The second thing I want to clarify is that we have not terminated his contract, it has been suspended. Now the question is why did we suspend him, because we believe no player is bigger than the team, we believe no player has the authority to bring the countrie's name into disrepute in any allegations. So we have not terminated his contract, we have suspended it until the ICC or Pakistan Cricket Board give him the clearance. We have removed his photographic pictures fom our site because we are focusing very hard on grass roots level, now if young kids still see Amir on the website they will believe yes Amir can get away with anything, we will have more such incidents in the future. So, if he comes out clean, there will be a big press conference, release and everything and he will be back on board with us, but if he doesnt the authorities will take the decision but for the time being we dont want to influence the brains and the minds of young cricketers and promote the same attitude. So we are trying to control that in our capacity, but again we have nothing against Amir, I am a big Amir fan. At that point I was in America and it was a very difficult decision for me but I had to take it because for the country and the team.
PakPassion.Net: Did you speak to Amir about his suspension from Boom Boom?
Ali Ehsan: I only spoke to him once throughout because I don’t deal directly with the players. I only spoke to him after the allegations, I tried to contact him but he was not available but then when he was recently in Dubai I did manage to get through and ask him what was going on, he sounded very positive and I told him your contract is still there, we are totally behind you, suspension I hope you understand is not against any personal vendetta or anything, it is just to protect young children and the countries name, and to pass on the message that nobody is above the game and he was hopeful, so hopefully he will come back.
PakPassion.Net: Well we all hope Amir comes back for the sake of Pakistan Cricket
Ali Ehsan: I would like to add something, the ICC should pull their weight, if they think he or the PCB or any other authority or any other cricket board, if anybody they have enough proof then they should make decisions quickly, rather than getting into a limbo. I think it is time because cricket has suffered, whether it is players, whether it is late decisions because players are their executors, they are just the performers and there are executors behind them and then they have planners behind them. So if you just pick the performer and say you are the culprit, I think that is not enough, you have to go and see who the executor is and then you have to further go back and see who the planner is. If you just pick up one young child like Amir or Butt or someone and say you are the person it won’t solve the issue because it is quite deep rooted, it goes back to very powerful people with a lot of money, so it must be held with a very, very strong hand.
PakPassion.Net: Just one final question on the Amir situation, do you think if you take Amir back say he is cleared Inshallah, you take him back as a Boom Boom ambassador, do you think he will be tarnished for life?
Ali Ehsan: It will be very difficult, you know I was reading this book by Imran Khan once and there was mention that it is very hard to build credibility and it is very easy to lose it. If you look at Wasim Akrams case, he was such a great performer, extremely talented cricketer but certain allegations you know, it should, it is still a gentleman’s game and it is very hard to keep your, with all this commercialisation coming in and players not properly groomed, and they don’t know how to manage the pressure and all the light and the media, and the focus and the attention and the hotels and the airport, the celebrity lifestyle. They do make mistakes, they are bound to make mistakes, they are only human, they don’t have the grooming, so it is the boards responsibility, the agents responsibility, the management responsibility to protect them, quite a lot of boards are doing that. So, I don’t know but it will take a lot of, and we will all be behind him, we will be helping him and we will support him at all activities so that his name is cleared, and no such thing happens again.
But if it keeps on going on and on and on, then you know that there is something wrong. I mean if you look at Asif’s case, he has been under the radar for a long time, he can’t travel to Dubai, he has been involed in Bollywood, Lollywood, I don’t know quite a few things I have heard which is not very good for the player, the country, the board and on a macro level, cricket.
PakPassion.Net: Moving to the kit itself. I mean you obviously have signed a two year deal with the Pakistan Cricket Board and part of the deal will no doubt be that player themselves wear Boom Boom merchandise and clothing when training, practising, playing etc. Quite often we see Pakistan's player using kits in practice which aren't Boom Boom, that must have been quite frustrating for yourself.
Ali Ehsan: Extremely frustrating. This is extremely extremely frustrating. The company is trying very hard to provide them things and delivery everything on time. There are, there were a few issues with the quality initially, but we have recovered from that. But the players using other brands, when we are paying the Board for the players to wear our brand, it doesn't look like a very organized disciplined national side. Have we ever seen England, Australian, West Indian or Indian team wearing anything else other than there official sponsor? But when you see Pakistani players, couple of senior players are wearing other brands. Doesn't make my brand look bad, it makes the player look bad and the Board's management, because it's the national side. So that is a serious breach of contract.
PakPassion.Net: As I say Ali Bhai this seem to be highly unprofessional given that you have provided the kits well in advance, they have got the caps, they have got the training kits. So there is absolutely no excuse why they should be wearing other brands.
Ali Ehsan: You would have noticed that it happened in England series. Umar Akmal was using other another brand's cap and there were couple of other guys. We notified this to Yawar Saeed and Shafqat Rana. They tried too but I think it is still happening. I have seen couple of matches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and it was happening there. We will be discussing this in our forthcoming meeting before the world cup just around next month with Pakistan cricket board.
PakPassion.Net: Ali Bhai what about on that subject which is quite interesting that when the certain players are giving the interview to the media as well and they are wearing caps. Does your contract include them wearing Boom Boom caps when they are speaking to the media as well?
Ali Ehsan: Yeah, yeah it does. I mean we are are their kit supplier. If you see Asian Games, Pakistani women who won the world cup were wearing our Boom Boom kit. We supply them for under 19 and the training games. Then why they use some other brand, its not that. I mean if you look from my point of view I can provide them with the kits, bags, hats, caps, why wouldn't I give them extra kits? It won't make me any richer by giving each player less kit. Why aren't they using it is definitely not that they are short of stock, no its not that. We always give them. But sometimes I think some players have there liking for certain fabrics and materials, but again this should not be in public. It makes me look bad, fine but at a bigger canvas it makes the Pakistan team look highly indisciplined.
PakPassion.Net: It was interesting to see Shoaib Akhtar, he was fined during the tour of England for not wearing a Non-Boom Boom kit for one of the matches.
Ali Ehsan: Yea, it is strange. I mean why would you do that? If you can wear it in the next match, then why didn't you wear it in the first match. So it happens, I've not seen any other team doing this, so fingers corossed it won't re-occur.
PakPassion.Net: Ali Bhai, moving on to a comparison with Nike, Adidas, Puma, huge brands around the world. Obviously they are involved in cricket now, what are you learning from those companies? How would you compare yourself with those companies in terms of technology etc?
Ali Ehsan: Yeah, they are extremely huge global brands Nike Adidas, Puma. Cricket, however, is a very focussed market. Cricket players are very focused, they want to see, they will always buy from specialist retailers. I don't know how much they are going to invest in terms of time and energies, or product development etc.
Nike, they always have a edge due to their footwear. Nike shoes are extremely good, I use them myself and they are very good shoes for cricket. Bats they are producing, but I don't think they have their own manufacturer, they are outsourcing it. What they have done is good and bad as well. They are paying extremely huge amount of sums to cricketers, which I think is good for the players. But at the same time I think specialist cricket brands who have been involved in cricket products for years and years and generations. So might be struggling because they won't have access to that kind of investment. Again I think ICC should take note of this as cricket is a very focused sport not like football, and cricket t is only played in 10-15 countries, I think only 10 countries or so are test playing nations. So interest of focus cricket manufacturers should really be managed by the ICC.
In terms of product development, we are , Boom Boom is involved in two universities in Germany and a couple of universities in England for our product technology development and very very soon we will be launching a very unique cricket bat which will update you on at a later date.
PakPassion.Net: Ali Bhai, for every person that praises the kit there are always people who will criticize it. Now we have seen unfortunately the kit quite heavily criticized at times on PakPassion because of players names and the lettering coming off, logo hanging off. So are you completely satisfied with the design of the kit or do you see room of improvement with future design?
Ali Ehsan: There is obviously room for improvement. The logo, the stickers coming off was very strange and tough time for us as well. The company only got five days to produce the kit. What we like to do is print the name within the fabric. So we dye the fabric. But if you just get like 72 hours or 5 days all you can do is paste the stickers and sometimes because we are using such a light fabric, we are using 140 gram fabric which is extremely light and moisture absorbing. So it is very hard to stick labels on them. The weight of stickers is heavy. So ideally the logo and stickers should be printed rather than pasted. If we use heavy fabric, yes it can stick there but if you look at players comfort we use light fabric as they like it. So it shouldn't be printed inside, it should instead be dyed, so it cannot come off. So there is always room for improvement and we are looking to improve it.
PakPassion.Net: Ali Bhai, the material of the kit itself, couple of questions regards to that. First question is it different material dependent upon where the team are actually playing? For example, you will have a different material if they are playing in England or compared to if they are playing in India.
Ali Ehsan: Yes, of course. When they were in England we were using a heavier gram of fabric with less meshing on it because of the cold weather here. But now for Dubai it is lighter material and sweat absorbing. So that the players don't get a lot of discomfort because of the kit. So it has to be lighter and non sticky, so that the shorts don't stick to the players.
PakPassion.Net: Another question with regards to the material, Ali Bhai. Its that, is the material that you are selling [via] outlets for example PakPassion and other guys who are selling Boom Boom shirts. Is that the same material which Pakistan players are actually wearing?
Ali Ehsan: Yes, it is almost the same, I guess. Slight changes but pretty much the same.
PakPassion.Net: Now Ali Bhai there are a lot of confusion with regards to suppliers for Boom Boom. Could you just clarifiy, just who the suppliers are, whether they are based in Pakistan or other parts of the world, that is for your bats and all other equipments as well?
Ali Ehsan: Yes, we have own outlet, manufacturing base. But at the same time some of the products are being made in China, a couple of manufacturers for bats in Pakistan and India as well. So it goes for pads and softs as well. We have got very strong supply chain and good links with manufacturers and we have got a very good association with a manufacturer in Bangladesh. So we have got multiple suppliers, not just one supplier.
PakPassion.Net: Just on the topic of suppliers, just to clarify one point is that say for example your bats are they solely made in Pakistan or they are made around the world?
Ali Ehsan: They are made around the world according to the grade.
PakPassion.Net: Pakistan cricket at the moment is going through some tough times, we have had the spot-fixing allegations and we have also had some allegations by Zulqairnan Haider as well, how does it feel for Boom Boom to be associated with Pakistan cricket and the Pakistan Cricket Board, especially when the repuation for Pakistan cricket isnt great?
Ali Ehsan: You will be surprised the mass of e-mails I have receieved from various quarters and various angles throughout the world regarding how much I am risking my brand name Boom Boom with my association with Pakistan Cricket Board at this point in time, because whatever you mentioned that has happened in the last 6 months is extremely, extremely disappointing, insulting, humiliating and every time we as Pakistanis think we have hit rock bottom we go to new depths, we discover new depths and it is like we reach the bottom, we keep going down and down and gaining momentum. Strictly, strictly talking from a business point of view this is a very risky time for us but we made a committment to the board and we will be meeting them early next year end of the season to discuss our contract, and position and everything around it, and hopefully, hopefully the players, the cricket board, the ICC will sort out their differences and they come out clean, clean slate and look towards the decision. If they cant then we have to make certain strategic decisions.
PakPassion.Net: At the time when you suspended Mohammad Amir's contract there were a few rumours, I don't know how true they were, that you were thinking about Boom Boom's position with the Pakistan Cricket Board, was there ever a time where you thought no we need to move on from Pakistan cricket?
Ali Ehsan: We did, we did. It was not rumours it was part of the press release. We were reviewing our contract and it was with our lawyers. I was under a lot of pressure to terminate our contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board but as I said earlier I strongly believe it and I take it as a national pride and personal pride that this is my national team and I made a commitment and I dont need to turn my back, but then again everyone has their limits, so hopefully, hopefully there wont be any extreme situations and we will go forward, Pakistan cricket team will play like Champions again and we will like Boom Boom, double power bounce back again and if you look at Pakistan cricket or Pakistani's as a nation, whether it was 1965, whether it was 1967, whether it was after '71 or 1999 Kargil or the earthquake in 2005, we always bounce back, or it was the semi-finals in 1992, we always bounce back so I truly hope that this happens as a nation, as a cricketing nation, as general we will bounce back.
PakPassion.Net: Last couple of questions, the Pakistan Cricket Board itself doesnt have the best of reputations unfortunately around the world, and you have obviously worked very closely with them, how difficult or how frustrating at times is it to be working alongside the Pakistan Cricket Board? I know you mentioned about the fact they only give you 3 or 4 days notice to prepare the kits, are you trying to instill that degree of professionalism in there?
Ali Ehsan: It is not my job to instill any professionalism because they are the cricket board and they have got some really good consultants and managers which know their job so it is not my domain to tell them what to do, but at times it gets tough for us because there is suddenly like if you look at Zulqairnan's case, he suddenly left the team and there is a new guy coming in, he might not be wearing Zulqairnan's size. He could be taller, smaller, wider, whatever. So if you need to prepare kit for him we need to know his name at least. So at last minute, it is difficult so it will be ideal if we know the exact touring players and officials name, because we are also supposed to supply the officials kit, the officials change quite randomly or like last tour it was Yawar Saeed and Shafqat Rana and now it's Intikhab Alam saab. So it is hard for us at times and we try to find a way around it and hopefully but at times obviously like any other partnership and relationship there are confusions and we are very determined and focused to resolve that, as I said earlier I take a lot of national pride and personal pride, plus it is not us and them, it is we and we are both behind the team on one side.
PakPassion.Net: 2011 is a big season for cricket, not only Pakistan cricket but International cricket, what are some of the products that you are and I know you touched upon the new range of bats that you mentioned earlier, can you tell us about some of the up and coming products that you have for the 2011 season?
Ali Ehsan: We recently launched the new range which will be available on the website and from all other retailers, brochures, promotions and everything. At the moment so we have got 3 ranges, accelerator, blaze and signature. Signature is gold and black, which is used and endorsed by Shahid Afridi. Blue and blue is the accelerator range and then the blaze is red and black, which is endorsed by Razzaq and Gul. We will be launching the matching pads, different designs and gloves, so each range will have complete softs colour matching cricket equipment.
Also something else which we are working on is training kit which will be launched around the world cup or perhaps slightly after that. So we have the tracksuits, the running, the clothing everything in the same colour schemes.
PakPassion.Net: I have had a lot of questions with regards to availability of the tracksuits that all the players were wearing in England, they looked very, very smart, will they be available for people to buy?
Ali Ehsan: The tracksuits are unfortunately not available at this point in time because they dont come under replicas, we only sell replica Pakistan shirts and caps, but we will be introducing very smart tracksuits and training gear for all cricket followers and other sports followers.
PakPassion.Net: What about the training kits, obviously at the moment it is a dark green kit, I have had some enquiries from individuals wanting to purchase the training kit but obviously that is not available at the moment, in future is that something you are looking to sell?
Ali Ehsan: It all depends upon the order sizes because they are very limited at this point, but the colours for the 2011 will be changing pretty soon, so it will be back to that dark green, hopefully if the board decides because that was our original option for the 2010 World Cup as well but they said we won 1 World Cup in the lime green so lets go and try that again, so lets see.
PakPassion.Net: My final question, with regards to the 2011 World Cup, you have mentioned to me previously that the new kit will be launched then, has the World Cup kit been agreed? What stage of the process are you at with regards to that kit?
Ali Ehsan: We have almost, normally we are supposed to give 2 to 3 designs to the Pakistan Cricket Board and then they have the right to whether accept them and make additions/subtractions to the design or entirely change it. So we are in the process of finalising our 3rd and final design and we have sent the designs to the PCB. After they look at the graphics they will come back to us and then we will get them the samples, if they agree the samples, we'll put them into production.
PakPassion.Net: Ali Bhai I really appreciate your time, thanks very much for giving up your time, I know you have got a very busy schedule at the moment.
Ali Ehsan: My pleasure. PakPassion is such a great website, it supports Pakistan cricket and cricket in general, and I want to thank everyone and please keep in touch with me, if they want to talk with me then please do not hesitate to do so. They can get my email address from you, we look forward to all criticism, all support, all feedback and good luck Pakistan, thank you very much.
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