This generation of Pakistani cricketers never had the luck to enjoy the cheering of their fervent home crowd, to hear their names being chanted by every single soul on the stadium, to give victory lapse around the stadium with your elated country men lauding you without any bounds and making sure you don’t get fall apart when you are having a bad over or a bad day on the pitch. This is how this this generation of Pakistani players was snatched away of their national identity. Pakistan’s new generation of players including Umar Akmal,Asad Shafiq,Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad have not played a single international game on their home soil.
Umar Akmal, pictured celebrating a World Cup fifty against West Indies, has never played at home
This nation witnessed some of the most beautiful moments in cricket history. They were the co-host of both the 1987 and 1996 world cup. Pakistan hosted the final of 1996 world in Gaddafi stadium in which Srilanka took the cup defeating the mighty Australians. During the 90s Pakistani fans had the pride to see the likes of Imran Khan, waqar Younus,Inzamam Ul Haq,Rashid Latif,Waqar Younus. Witnessing these great players perform kept the Pakistani supporters at the edge of their seat. But those days had been long gone.
These pictures are the reminiscence of the good old days.
The nightmare for Pakistani cricket started after 3rd march, 2009 when the srilankan cricket bus was subject to an unanticipated attack. This claimed the lives of 6 police officers along with two civilians and left 7 srilankan players injured. Ever since that the ICC stripped Pakistan of all cricket fixtures.
Ever since that day Pakistani fans lost their privilege to root for their teams with their hearts out. Pakistan had to use the venue of UAE. But for a player there is no place like his countries own venue. There is always an emotional factor that plays into the mind of the players.
For more than fifty years, Haji Basheer (below) has prepared the pitch at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium and witnessed some of cricket’s biggest moments including two World Cups. Now he is sits there on the empty stadium to wonder where things went wrong.
The emptiness of Gaddafi stadium, Karachi stadium, and Lahore stadium is depressing. It reflects this big hollowness which is present in the Pakistani cricket.
Not only has Pakistani cricket has lost its soul but it has suffered financially greatly. The financial impact of foreign teams not playing in Pakistan in terms of gate receipts, advertisement revenues and broadcaster rights is a major setback for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and affects its ability to promote and develop the game in this cricket-mad nation.
Pakistan cricket board (PCB) has tried numerous times to lure international teams to play in Pakistan. Bangladesh was scheduled to tour Pakistan in January 2013, but before they could put all their plans into action, the Dhaka High Court issued a court order that banned the team from travelling to the war-torn country. The tour of Zimbabwe also couldn’t convince any international team to come and play.
Despite these major setbacks and hurdles Pakistani team is surprising the world with wonders. Despite losing the first two matches of the 2016 world cup Pakistan made it to the quarters, where they lost to Australia. This cannot come as a surprise considering the fact that they came of as the champions and also it was their home ground. But for how long can Pakistan retain its agility in the world of cricket. Especially when the incentives to play cricket are decreasing fast as the money is drying up. This is a prerequisite for the local talents to join the game.
Considering the geo-political conditions of Pakistan it can be said that this long wait of seven years is not going end anytime soon. But for the sake of the love of the game we need Pakistan to come back to life. Because it was once the Pakistani legends which made us feel for cricket.