The extreme disappointment of the cancellation of the New Zealand and England cricket tour was lessened somewhat by the historic 10 wickets win over India. Though the manner of the New Zealand team going back from Pakistan was not only disappointing but humiliating as well. They came to Pakistan, practiced for 5 days, got an email or an intelligence reporter, whatever which is still mired in controversy and 15 minutes before the match started, they decided to go back.
To be fair New Zealand has made itself the laughingstock of the cricketing community and they have totally failed to justify or rationalize their decision to go back. The damage that has been done to Pakistan cricket was immense, but the Pakistan team led by the motivated Babar Azam took one step towards repairing some of the damage by the comprehensive defeat they handed out to India. It was the most emphatic statement that Pakistan could have made.
How did New Zealand disappoint Pakistan?
When New Zealand decided that they want to go back from Pakistan without playing that raised a huge amount of debate, everybody jumped in to opine whether the decision was justified, whether the threat was serious enough. The cricketing community discussed the matter threadbare. Then within the next few days, this time very much expected England did cancel their tour of Pakistan before the 20/20 world cup. This time it was a double blow. It was two tours actually that got canceled, men’s and women’s. It deprived Pakistan of any practice that they were supposed to get before the twenty-twenty world cup. That’s what transpired finally, while the world at large was playing matches by the dozens Pakistan team had nobody to play with. So, it was ensured that Pakistan gets no practice before the world cup.
The subject of the terrorist threat has been discussed by everyone. Talk shows were held. Articles have been written. Cricket boards have given their opinions. Cricketers have expressed their opinion. Few have supported the decision, a majority has disagreed with the decision, resignation from ECB has followed, olive branch from New Zealand has been extended. Talks about neutral venues were quashed by Pakistan very quickly. New Zealand is now talking about rescheduling the tour.
England is bending over backward to claim they will be coming in 2022. New Zealand and England cricket boards have received quite a bit of flak from the cricketing community and fans. All that was expected and something that we’ve not expected happened and things have started to quieten down. Pakistani players are determined to make a statement in the world cup and they have successfully taken the first step by their demolition of India.
Who is the real threat to Pakistan’s cricket?
Pakistan has survived much worse and Pakistan being the resilient nation that they are is expected to survive much more. Nobody thought that anyone will be able to kill Pakistan cricket and they surely will not. However strangely one question was never raised. One particular aspect was never discussed, condemned, brought to light. It was as if that part of the equation was blank. If a crime is committed then you have to have a criminal. If an act of terrorism is to take place you have to have terrorists.
Nothing can happen without someone to do it. Now the question is who is trying to hit cricket in Pakistan and why? If we agree that the New Zealand team is threatened with terrorism and they were in danger, then there must be a group of People combining together to subject them to aggression to terrorism. Who and why? Strangely the western world is silent on this aspect.
When Afghanistan was rising through the cricketing ranks and winning matches and tournaments as an associate and qualified for one-day internationals and then twenty and then finally the icing on the cake got test match playing honors, at that time the war in Afghanistan was at its peak. Thus, it was almost unthinkable to play a cricket match in a war zone. However, the truth of the matter is Taliban did not issue an edict against cricket, they did not subject the game to aggression actually they sent once a message of felicitation when Afghanistan achieved some success a few years back.
Afghan Taliban with their total armed dominance of the countryside could have strangled cricket in Afghanistan if they desired but they did not do it. In fact, when they overrun the Afghan army, or to be more precise when the Afghan army decided to join them a few months back, they clearly declared that they are enamored by the game. There was an exhibition match of Afghan national stars that actually took place in Kabul.
How has terrorism affected cricket across the world?
A number of terrorism-related activities has taken place when cricket was being played in town. In England, in Sri Lanka, in New Zealand, in India, in Pakistan but the cricket team was hardly subjected to direct threat. The 2009 Sri Lanka incident was Tamil Tigers related. So why and who is supposedly a threat to cricketers in Pakistan? In Pakistan almost for a decade now cricket is being played peacefully and to prove a point a few days after New Zealand ran off from Pakistan, the Pakistan cricket board held a highly successful National 20/20 cup and the whole event was televised all over the world. So, the ridiculousness of New Zealand’s claim was fully exposed.
The Afghan Taliban are not threatening cricket, they actually want to promote it, the Pakistani Taliban is weakened and not in a position to do something like this with the cricketers being protected by state-level security. I don’t recall any terrorism activity in Daesh-held areas or in the middle east or in the western world where a sports team is being directly attacked.
Terrorists even with their warped mindset need some justification or motivation of ideology to garner some public support. Any terrorist groups that will attack a sports team will be totally devoid of that. Why would they take the risk? They will not and they don’t. So the million-dollar question is who is threatening cricketers in Pakistan? Why is that question not being discussed? Is it because the international community knows the answer but the answer will hurt their economic interest? Food for thought.
The author has worked for Unilever for 25 years. He is a professional translator/interpreter of five languages and is also a certified computer trainer. He is currently living in Virginia, USA. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.