Is the violence in the streets of London enough for India to raise security concerns and call off the tour? Would it have been enough for a cricketing team to cancel its tour to Pakistan? Well the answer to the first question is an obvious no, but replace the word Pakistan in place of London and the answer would change. Is this prejudice or is it just fate. Well if you ask young Ahmad, a 12 year old school boy playing cricket in the streets of Karachi, the only answer you would get is that International teams should come and play cricket in Pakistan. He will tell you how he loves to watch Australia come and play in Lahore or India play in Karachi. What is his heart felt feelings, feelings that he does not express, feelings that cannot be expressed in words, when he is told that nobody is coming because his country is not safe. Would it leave some sort of psychological effect on the personality of the boy when one day he would grow up and play for his country. Definitely, the situation in Pakistan is not one where you would like you sons to grow up and face in their day to day lives. It creates a sense of being deprived of something, maybe respect.
Not bringing international politics into my article, but I would like to mention this much that Pakistan is fighting an international war against terrorism in order to make the world a safer place. They are fighting so that your children could play in the street without any fear. The whole world should encourage them and respect them for that. I hear that some 35,000 people have been killed so far in Pakistan in this war against terrorism, mostly in the border region with Afghanistan. It’s strange that the world, especially the cricketing world, has decided to, sort of, punish them for this sacrifice. Nobody wants to visit Pakistan to play cricket quoting safety concerns. Pakistan has put its whole population in this unsafe situation in order to fight terrorism but others are reluctant to send their 16 players to the unsafe Pakistan even though they are assured of the best security arrangements.
Sometimes I wonder if the cricket players around the world are really that cowards that they don’t feel safe to come and support those people who are fighting on their behalf. I don’t believe that sportsmen are cowards, in fact, sports makes you brave. This is evident from the fact that teams of other games like soccer, squash, tennis, etc have all visited Pakistan. It is only cricket that has had some trouble. This brings some other thoughts to mind, those reflected in my previous article about The Politics in Cricket. Is the cricketing world too politicized? Take a look at the ICC’s FTP and you see that the ICC power houses, India, Australia and England have much more matches scheduled over the next 8 years than the less powerful (and less popular with ICC members) countries like Pakistan. This translates into more financial benefits and more strength in the future.
Looking at safety concerns and you find that Pakistan is not the only country with safety concerns, there were Tamil Tigers in Srilanka, the Mumbai attacks in india, the London bombings in England, the list goes on, but nobody shies away from these countries then why Pakistan. Maybe the PCB is to blame for the lack of International cricket in the country, for the PCB has had poor public relationing and normally stands alone at the ICC. It has had trouble with the Indian board, the English board and several others, it has even threatened to that the ICC to court. It’s decision making over the years has been poor and it does not enjoy a good reputation in its own country.
But then, this brings me back to my question, is the cricketing world too politicized? Is there no fair play and justice left in the game. Do you have to play politics to get a fair share. The powerful are running the affairs of the ICC to the best of their interests. Nobody is going to raise the question of safety concerns in England due to the current ongoing voilence. They have mutual interest to guard for each other.
All looks well for now, but all this politics in cricket would take its toll in times to come. The general public in these countries are also wise enough to know what’s going on. I just hope we do not drive away the cricket crazy fans far away from the gentleman’s cricket.