Our cricket team has brought our nation together countless times.
For years, Pakistan has been relegated as a no-go zone for hosting cricket. Earlier this year, we were shunned when the Kiwis cancelled their Pakistan tour at the last minute. They cited security concerns, just before stepping on to the pitch. The New Zealand tour was one of the first tours in Pakistan in more than a decade.
Due to New Zealand’s cancellation, Pakistan played the 2021 International Cricket Council Men’s Twenty 20 (T20) World Cup in United Arab Emirates (UAE), with scant preparation.
Pakistan’s most popular source of public joy is cricket. From Chakwal to Chaman, we are passionate about cricket. So enthralled we are by the euphoria of the cricket, that we elected a former cricketer, Imran Khan, as our Prime Minister. This shows that cricket is a pivotal to Pakistan’s nation-building process.
Unfortunately, since 2009, Pakistan has been forced to move its tournaments to the UAE, due to security concerns. This included the first edition of Pakistan’s own T20 league in 2016. Millions of Pakistanis missed the opportunity of seeing this game.
However, there has been a sprinkling of opportunities, in the last decade, for Pakistanis to watch their beloved game. In 2015, the Zimbabwe team visited to play with us, but even that trip was marred by a terrorist attack. In 2017, Sri Lanka visited Pakistan, bringing life back to domestic pitches. This was due to Pakistan Super League (PSL) which remained the only of exposure with foreign cricketers and coaches that the Pakistan team had.
Isolation and Success
Our cricket team’s bravado is worthy of applause, especially when you understand how limited the opportunities presented to the green shirts have been in recent years. Let’s take things into perspective. England hasn’t toured Pakistan since 2005. Australia last visited in 1998-1999. South Africa toured Pakistan after a gap of 13 years.
Despite all this, the green shirts defeated the Indian cricket team in a majestic high-octane match in Dubai during the T20 World Cup. India has been Pakistan’s historical rival, on the geographical border and cricket ground.
India has been using cricket as a tool to splinter relations between the two countries since the 1950s. They haven’t visited Pakistan since many years, and additionally have barred Pakistani players from the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Add to this the fact that the Pakistan men’s cricket team have never defeated India in any world cup game, ever. And then you will understand why Pakistan’s encounter with the Indian cricket team in sandy Dubai became the most viewed match in the history of T20. It fetched 167 million viewers, this surpassed the previous most-watched cricket match: India vs West Indies in the 2016 ICC World T20 semi-finals.
In the stadium capacity of nearly 20,000 the green shirts were playing against two fronts: one game was happening within the boundary, the Pakistan cricket team against the Indian, and the second game was being played between the Indians dominating the crowd, and chanting slogans to the tune of IPL, and our cricket team.
One wants to salute the spirit, determination, and will power of these youngsters from Pakistan; they have been isolated from international cricket for years and they still shine like super stars.
For the Cricketing Cause
When New Zealand cancelled its Pakistan tour, the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) financial loss amounts to approximately $15 million to $25 million. As an international corporate lawyer, I believe that PCB should to seek compensation from the International Cricket Council.
We have proven time and time again how dedicated we are to the cause of cricket. Last summer, when England was struggling to contain its spread of Covid-19, far before the vaccines were made available, the Pakistan team traveled to England for a tournament. This prevented the English Cricket Board from losing $526 million.
In the same vein, Pakistan didn’t cancel its tour to New Zealand after the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings. The shooting left 51 people dead and 40 injured, but the Pakistan team completed its tour and visited the families of victims.
The green shirts fought fearlessly in the T20 this year, with just one tour to the West Indies under their belt. The 11-member squad made the nation proud. Pakistanis cheered their team from the grounds in UAE, as well as through their television screens at home.
We are a nation that rejoices cricket. Today we call upon the cricketing world, especially the International Cricket Council, to ensure that cricket is not defeated by force majeure such as Covid-19 and security concerns.
Pakistan team has shown its mettle to the cricketing world once again.