Let the team play not your grudges

Pakistan vs South Africa, Sarfaraz Ahemd

Sarafarz Can Fly too!!!! (AP Photo)

This Piece was originally written for Cricnama as my Column “Sharp Spin” for it.

That was a late sitting in oxford and we all gathered from across UK to attend a conference, unneeded to say that all of the attendees and especially the accomplices of that sitting were quite refined people. Then suddenly our pakistanism took over and someone said something which is a pinching point for me at times (not personally, since personally I do not care about such lame things). Discussion moved to certain topic and a friend from Sindh suddenly said Sindhi aor Pathaan bohot gherat mand hoty hain (Sindhis and Pashtoons are real honorable people), my reply was even blunt, yani Punjabi he bagherat hota hy? (So you mean Punjabis are honorless bunch?). It was all taken as light joke but such situations happen time and again or maybe I am too vigilant about them, two years ago I was reading a book called “Warrior Race – A Journey Through The Land Of The Tribal Pathans” by Imran Khan. Reading that book gave me a sense as if from Mianwali to Sadiqabad only honor-less people are living because all the honor and pride remains in up in KP.

These might sound lame examples but this is our attitude we accept it or not, I have observed such attitude again this time in terms of cricket in last week. Before I keyboard about it let me quote from another book of Imran Khan (this one was his autobiography as a cricketer):

“I have no complaints about the press anywhere except in Pakistan…. The problems arise at home where regional loyalties can lead to a bad press that may have nothing to do with actual performance on the field…

I first became aware of this when I was made captain in 1982. Javed Miandad was seen as Karachi boy who had been toppled by the Lahore lobby because the entire team had refused to play under him. Once I became captain, I became target of a planned campaign by certain Karachi journalists. To begin with, I felt confused I had heard about Karachi and Lahore lobbies in the team, but I had never actually came across them…

I had never thought of myself as representing any particular city while playing for Pakistan, and I was amazed at how Qadir’s selection was immediately attacked as an attempt to dislodge a Karachi spinner, Iqbal Qasim.

As a result of the campaign by those Karachi journalists a section of the Karachi crowd also turn against me. The abuse at the ground took much of the pleasure out of playing in highly responsive conditions of Karachi stadium. When the news broke in 1983 that i would not be playing in the world cup due to stress fracture in my leg, a leading Karachi Daily, the Star, carried a headline to the effect that i had sold out to the bookies – and this was just after i had achieved Pakistan record by taking forty wickets in a home series…

The sad thing is that the masses believe what appears in the paper no matter how often one contradicts it.”

(Imran Khan, 1988) – Page 217-219

I hope you might have got idea what I am talking about. If not let me utter few words, Wicket Keeper, Karachi, Urdu Speaking, Sarfaraz Ahmed.

Yes you have got me there, like every other Pakistani cricket fan I was happy over Pakistan winning against South Africa. Like everyone else Sarfaraz was my hero too (he still is, whoever wears that green blazer and strives to keep its pride high is my hero). But then we brought back the same old useless debate of Lahore vs Karachi, Urdu vs Rest of Pakistan, Karachi players (read with victim card) and Lahore lobby (the tyrant card holders). This spoiled whole taste completely, it was certainly like what an Urdu proverb says about a goat wasting milk by putting “something” in it. Players might not have that rift or feelings when they are in the ground but this attitude of ours certainly ads tension in the atmosphere of dressing room. The worst part is that when politicians come out and start scoring point playing language and race card, like our crickets our politicians, sometimes, are not mature enough to measure the longer run magnitudes of them playing such role when they try to play race and language card. Like our cricketers our politicians also have a great following, needless to say some of the political parties have diehard fans among the masses and they will believe anything their leader say and will not be ready to listen anything otherwise.

This attitude of ours have already done a lot of damage to the team, perhaps as much damage as match fixing and spot fixing. Our attitude towards team Pakistan changes when such feeling is fanned among us. Rather than supporting that crest of star repressing Pakistan cricket we start supporting and championing our likes and favorites. It is painful to say but this actually makes it sound true what someone said about Pakistan, “Pakistan…. it’s not even a country, it’s a bloody acronym.”

We already are living in an era where when Pakistan beats Zimbabwe to stage its first win in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 – rather than celebrating our first win in the campaign a whole bunch of idiots is celebrating the fact that Misbah again failed to score a ton, and on the other hand another bunch of crackpots was celebrating because Afridi did not get a wicket in the match.

We have successfully created an atmosphere when one can easily expect that if (God forbid) Sarfaraz fails tomorrow (or in any other game in future) a whole bunch of idiots will start celebrating his failure like anything. Therefore, I might not have as much astuteness as many of you especially those who are in the media and politics they have much more vision, wisdom, and experience than me, it is unnecessary to advise you but it will be better if you guys can please let the team play not your grudges, for Pakistan’s sake.

Khan, I., 1988. All Round View. London: Chatto & Windus.


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