Pakistan (cricket) – Whither?

It is very sad state of affairs that we all get to see and hear from Pakistan. They have been going through tough times ever since the terrorism struck Sri Lankan cricketers touring Pakistan earlier last year. Before that as well, various touring sides had multiple issues going to Pakistan – be it Taliban attacks, internal political uncertainties, Benazir Bhuto’s assassination and aftermath. The fact remains that the terrorism and political instability has spoiled cricket in this beautiful cricketing nation.

If you carefully analyze the problem faced by Pakistan cricket and Pakistan in general, the entire thing boils down to only two issues – The lack of democracy and education. Even the religious extremism, terrorism, poverty, unemployment – you name it – are byproducts of lack of good governance and focus on education.

For years together Pakistan has been under military rule or been governed by incompetent leaders who never had any vision for the country. The situation is continuing even now. If the country itself is run under uncertainties on a daily basis, what kind of economic growth and development can one expect?

So the need of the hour is:

– A stable government (not run by military leaders and incompetent politicians)
– Educational system revamping
– Focus on law and order within the country then worry about neighbors and the world

Unlike many Indians, I do not believe that terrorism is only bound to happen in a particular nation or a religion. It is really bad to finger point an entire nation due to some bad set of uneducated people. If you think that way, India is one of the terrorist nations as well because the internal problems such as Thelegana issue or Naxalism is as bad as terrorism. However, due to strong leadership and visionaries, there has been a lot of improvements and strong growth in India in the areas of health, eradication of poverty to some extend, education, homegrown technologies and agriculture. Pakistan needs to learn from such efforts and forget focus on religious issues etc.

It is important for strong neighbors like India and China to have greater political stability in Pakistan. That is the only way in which the entire region of South Asia can be a strong economic powerhouse. The current situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan will only lead to the USA deploying more forces in this region thereby threatening the next superpowers India and China. As long as each country manage the situation very well, we do not need any global police here and South Asia as a whole can grow big.

Coming back to cricket and the recent match/spot fixing allegations, I personally believe that it is the result of lack of education and ethics that needs to be built into each citizen by their leaders. Shahariyar Khan, the former PCB chief, made a very strong point recently. The captain of the team has to be an educated individual and has to instill certain culture and ethics to the youngsters who join their team very early in their lives. The Indian team has been lucky enough to be led by individuals with higher ethics and good education most of the time. Cricketers such as Saurav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni have been excellent ambassadors of the game. On the other hand, the leadership in Pakistan cricket, PCB and the government itself has been shaky and everyone played only selfish roles all this while.

What Pakistan cricket probably needs as an immediate fix is a very strong individual – somebody like Imran Khan – at the PCB and they also need a strong captain. Part of the problem will be eliminated by this and the rest of course is with the government itself.

I sincerely hope that Pakistan cricket will come out all this mess soon. India and Sri Lanka could help Pakistan in that process by resuming their cricket tours to Pakistan.

Let the normality prevail at the earliest!

Lahore attack and the future of cricket in the sub-continent!

March 03, 2009 will be marked as a black day in the world of cricket! The touring Sri Lankan team and the match officials were attacked by armed men in broad day light when they were on their way to play the third day of the Lahore test.

What concerned most people around the cricketing world and political circles was the fact that there was not adequate secrurity provided to the players and officials. The terrorists came walking casually and started firing at the players’ bus and Lahore attack on Srilankan cricket team there wasn’t anybody to fire back at them! Sri Lankan ace cricketer Murali was of the opinion that the attack sounded like pre-planned with more leaked out information. Chris Broad the match referee claimed that there was absolutely no policemen around to protect them. All these may fingerpoint to the PCB’s inability to take care of the security of the players and Pakistan’s inability to protect its VIP visitors. It may be recalled that the Sri Lankan team decided to visit Pakistan after India pulled out of the Pakistan tour following the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

It is not just about Pakistan

A lot of people must be happily blaming Pakistan alone! As an Indian and knowing the security system here I can tell you that India is not better either in terms of the law and order enforcement – So is the case with Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. However, the security (Z Category) provided to the cricketers are usually slightly better than that in Pakistan. Basically the entire sub-continent is not that safe.

The future of IPL 2 and the World Cup 2010…

The Champions League was alreadyh called off due to the terror and unfriendly political situations in Pakistan. Now, the future of World Cup is also at stake – not just for Pakistan but for the entire sub-continent. And the immediate impact is for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2. Pakistan players have already pulled out of IPL and some New Zealand, England and Australian cricketers have already raised their concerns about visiting India for IPL. To make things worse, the Indian home ministry has requested BCCI to postpone the event as General elections in the country is clashing with the IPL schedules. I guess, the Government of India‘s stand on this is right! What is more important is the human life, then the democratic process (elections) and then comes cricket. BCCI, Lalit Modi and co may loose some money but anyhow, that money is going to only the players, sponsors and franchises and not the poor of this country (Probably making the IPL event shorter – perhaps 20 days or so – would have been the ideal thing to do)

Whether it’s IPL or the World Cup, I guess cricket – and subcontinent cricket in specific – is not going to have a good time in the near future!

Javed Miandad against Terrorism affecting India-Pakistan Cricket!

Last week a few great Pakistan cricketers have expressed their concerns about the impact of worsening political ties between India and Pakistan affecting cricket! Zaheer Abbas, Wasim Akram and Javed Miandad were the notable voices amongst them.

Miandad, the newly appointed, Director General of PCB felt that ‘Both India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism and cricket will bridge the gap between the two nations’.

I personally feel that the series should go ahead despite sentimental reasons and terrorism. Pakistan has lost control over its terrorist and fanatic outfits and hence there’s no point in cricket getting affected due to this. For that matter, even internal politics and terrorism is found in abundance in India as well.

My only point is that – Miandad – who was infamous for his on and off-field misbehavior as a player and otherwise may not be the ideal person to talk about terrorism and good politics. A couple of years ago, Miandad’s son got married to the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s daughter and Mr. Miandad had clicked snaps with all possible criminals that caused the serial blasts in Mumbai in 1993. It feels funny when those who party with underworld dons and gang leaders talk about good side of politics and cricket!

Champions League Twenty20 & England – India Test Series under Terror threat

The worst has happend again and last night’s terror attack in multiple locations in Mumbai has raised concerns on whether it is safe to conduct the Champions League Twenty20 matches and continue even the ongoing England’s tour of India. Mumbai has been identified as one of the key venues for the first edition of the colorful Twenty20 event that was to start next week. The second test between India and England was also scheduled for this venue. Now in the wake of the terror attacks, I doubt if it is even safe to continue with these schedules. Moreover, the visiting teams have a real reason to stay away from their plans due to two main reasons:

1. As of the situation this morning, 6 foreign nationals were killed in the terror attack last night and a few others have been held hostages.

2. For the first time, the attacks have taken place in laxury hotels, where majority of the cricketers will be usually put up for such events .

Ponting talks about it and England board reviews situation

The Punter has pounced on the opportunity to immediately declare that it may not be safe to continue with the Champions League T20 in this situation. He even went ahead and said that probably another country should host the event now (which means that the event could be postponed). Two Australian clubs – Western Australia and Victoria – were to be part of the Twenty20 event along with two teams from India, South Africa and one team from Pakistan and England respectively.

Double standards?

Ponting (like the Pakistani board earlier this year) has every reason to shout because, time and again, when it comes to terror attacks in India, many cricket boards have shown their back to the players by putting their life at risk. When similar things happen in Pakistan or Sri Lanka, they are much stricter. Like I mentioned in the last post, money is everything and BCCI can set the rules as they are the richest! Not sure if that can work this time as the value of human life should be considered equal anywhere on the earth!

Though, terror attacks in India are mostly said to be originating from Pakistan, when it comes to a sports event, I guess the governance should be impartial. Pakistan even lost the Champions Trophy opportunity due to terror scare, political situation etc. Even if I am an Indian, I must say that, this time around, the Champions League should be postponed and give more importance to human lives than cricket and money!

Champions Trophy under threat!

There has already been a lot of talks around Pakistan as the venue of this year’s ICC Champions Trophy. In fact, it is not just about Champions Trophy, but any touring team from England, New Zealand and Australia always used to raise this ‘stock concern’ about the security situation in Pakistan and sometimes Zimbabwe as well.

Though, security is of prime importance, I just wonder if it has become a fashion to always raise this concern by the above mentioned teams while touring Pakistan. Or it could be a cultural difference between sub-continent teams and the developed nations that play cricket.

Bomb blasts and terrorist attacks are part and parcel of life in most sub-continent countries. Though, the democratic situation in India and Sri Lanka are much better, these countries are neither safe nor any exception when it comes to safety. Now, why don’t they complain about Indian or Sri Lankan tours the same way they do with the Pakistan tours?

According to me, the cricketers (hosts or visitors) always get the best security arrangements available in the sub-continent. Beyond this, if they have more worries, why not the rich cricket bodies ‘hire’ efficient (and may be even imported) security personnel for the protection of their players? If no proper permanent solution is devised for this issue, we will get to hear the same statements over and again. Moreover, the cultural differences and financial status of the cricket bodies have already started separating the cricketing nations into two groups. In all recent issues – whether it is the IPL, issues related to Pakistan and Zimbabwe, ICL issues etc – the main underlying reason was the cultural difference that was further widened by the BCCI’s money power to influence decisions. So it’s time for the international cricket bodies come together and decide on consciences and the future of cricket!