World Eleven players, ICC and PCB deserve cricket fan’s gratitude
Pakistan’s decades -long fight against terrorism was uphill, perilous and costly in human lives lost, but the worst hopefully appears to be over. The daily, sometimes in multiples, acts of death and destruction, not sparing places of worship and schools, by misguided religious elements, tested the resilience of men in uniform and citizens alike to the utmost. Such horrific incidents have shrunk to a trickle, though still deadly in effect, and this turnabout is a catalyst for a cautious return to normalcy in everyday life, though still not in the turbulent political sphere. Starved of entertainment, with entry even to public Parks and Gardens prohibited for a while, and Lahorites in particular also deprived of their popular Basant festival (though for other reasons), desperate to put depressing problems momentarily at bay, most Pakistanis readily turn to the one surest common and binding sport, cricket, which was played in Gulf exile these last many years.
The fourteen leading players from South Africa, Australia, England, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies who boldly took the plunge in playing the series in Pakistan, are actually much more than mere players of the game. They are truly ‘game changers’, the first swallows that would herald a long cricket spring in Pakistan, as the successful staging of this first official series since March 2009 will be the harbinger of more to come, with Sri Lankan and West Indies lined up for November and December. Next stop, Karachi and Islamabad! Cognisant of Pakistani fans cricket obsession and the country’s triumph in ICC Champions Trophy 2017, the sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council, also backed the tour to the hilt, confirming security clearance, naming its own supervisory referee and granting the three match series international status.
The collateral impact, especially in intense security checks, closure of some markets, and huge traffic snarls, will no doubt invite much justified anger and grumbling among commuters, but that is a small price to pay for the beautiful sight of a packed Qaddafi Stadium and ecstatic roaring fans on their home turf.