It was a mere two years ago that I had the opportunity to visit Lawrence Gardens, the former home of the national cricket team, to organise a tournament involving the Special People’s Cricket Association of Pakistan for my brand, sehat.com.pk – the first online pharmacy in Pakistan. The event formally marked our association with the special people’s cricket team of Pakistan as an acting sponsor, but it also introduced my company to an unspoken bond of love for Pakistan’s cricketing history.
As I write this, I yearn to revisit the conspicuous Gothic-style building at Lawrence Gardens many have come to know as the Pakistan Cricket Museum
Najum Latif, famed Pakistani cricket historian, acts as its curator. Najum has assisted Peter O’Borne, esteemed cricketing author, on two books centered on Pakistani Cricket, ‘Wounded Tiger’ and ‘White on Green’. The former won the Wisden Book of the Year in 2014. Having been educated at Aitchison College, Lahore, Najum went abroad to the University of Oregon to pursue his higher studies. However, his heart remained with Pakistani cricket, and he sought to make an impact after returning home. An appointment ensued with the Lahore Gymkhana, whose Cricket Club had claimed the territory upon which Lawrence Gardens stood. After years of sheer persistence, Najum’s efforts culminated, in 2003, in to the formation of the Pakistan Cricket Museum, a pedestal for Pakistan’s Cricketing achievements throughout its rich history.
It was a brisk winter day when I decided to pay Najum a visit at this very pedagogical shrine to have a look at the various treasures inside the Museum, first-hand. The first device I had a look at, seemed to be a charpoy to the naked eye, but turned out to be an apparatus used for fielding practice. A cricket ball would be thrown on the apparatus which would almost definitely send it in a different direction at every throw. Commemorative plates, pictures of visiting teams for practice matches, and official player portraits of the men in green could also be seen. Through witnessing this sheer opulence, an idea popped up to recognise the achievements of Najum through the guise of sehat.com.pk. It was then that my company decided to be an official patron of the Pakistan ‘cricket museum’.
I immediately read the engraved historical facts of the museum on a plaque outside the entrance, to discover some interesting findings. Though Pakistan was founded as a nation in 1947, the Lawrence Gardens hosted its first test in 1955 against India. The test venue of the national cricket team was very short lived, as it hosted its last ever test against West Indies in 1959. The last match it hosted of an official visiting team was in 2005, between Pakistan ‘A’ and England. Lahore Gymkhana Cricket Club members are also mentioned as honorary members of the famed Marylebone Cricket Club, who play at Lords.
Najum and I met up again to discuss the Pakistani cricket in greater detail. Despite a rich history, there was quite a bit of speculation in regards to what the future held for the team. “Maintaining a strong moral compass has always been an issue for our team”, notes Najam. To him, regardless of how spectacular a player’s performance may be, even one abomination should result in him being axed. Another area of concern was heavy involvement by other non-cricketing entities in the affairs of the PCB – a case of ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth’.
However, I, for one, feel that hope still remains for our team, keeping in mind our recent victory against England in the 1st test at Lords in the 2016 series. I still remember the awe-inspiring sight of leaving the cricket museum during that visit in the winter of 2014, during the evening, when dusk befell the city. A foggy mist appeared, and a pretty picture of what once was the home of juggernauts such as AH Kardar and Hanif Muhammad was formed in my mind. It also painted a picture of what awaited cricket in Pakistan – an apparition of hope in a time of obscurity.