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5 Ways to Bring Back Cricket

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Ashar Zaidi
The News

[COLOR=#303030 !important]After weeks of wavering mode swings and safety concerns, we were happy to know that our good neighbors had finally agreed to give life to our morgue-like grounds. But while jubilant Pakistani fans were busy stitching national flags, painting new banners and rehearsing patriotic slogans, the Bangladesh Supreme court heard to its national cry.[/COLOR][COLOR=#303030 !important][/COLOR][COLOR=#303030 !important]Their players, officials, media and the Nation had clearly highlighted their unwillingness to visit and it was only one Mustafa Kamal who was keeping the tour hopes alive. But now all that hope and enthusiasm has been replaced once again by gloom and doom. Pakistan would not have international cricket for some time to come, maybe a painful pain for few more year.[/COLOR][COLOR=#303030 !important][/COLOR][COLOR=#303030 !important]Itís disappointing, but not something we didnít see coming. Would the Bangladeshis come to play? The ďIFĒ and ďBUTĒ game had been in full swing for some time. And only a few highly optimist fans saw a realistic chance of bat hitting the ball.[/COLOR][COLOR=#303030 !important][/COLOR][COLOR=#303030 !important]This is a huge jolt, which will take a lot of guts and planning to overcome. So while the good men at Qaddafi Stadium scratch their head and rethink their way forward, I would like to present my 5 point proposal that I believe will help bring back the cheers.

1-Stop lying please.

ďPakistan is Safe for cricket and international eventsĒ, Zaka Ashraf. Rubbish, for heavenís sake stop lying to the world. A country that is riddled with lawlessness, where people are massacred in brought day light, prisons are thronged, where every citizen fears of robbery and sectarian killings, where bank robberies, snatching and bombings are only a routine. To make mockery of things, no culprits are ever apprehended. And still you are trying to send out signals that ďAll is wellĒ. Mr. Ashraf, the world isnít stupid. The lightening paced media splashes such horrified news globally within seconds and you actually expect people to build faith in your shallow words? When you canít guarantee the safety of your own citizens, then in what stretch of your wild imagination would you expect foreigners to trust your claims?

Solution: Be candid and frank to the world. Neither are we safe nor do we have the skills to host a fool proof event. Claims aside, the negligence displayed during the Sri-lankan team attack would continue to hurt our reputation for years to come. So ask the world to assist you and there is no shame in that. When you can call Andy Atkinson to help you prepare pitches, why canít you ask experts to facilitate with security arrangements? Be fair to the world and I am confident they will step in to help us, as they have in all calamities.

2- Stop THREATENING and accusing others for conspiracies.

I suppose as a nation we are generally skeptical and always willing to turn the blame for our failures and incompetence on foreign conspiracy. This malpractice needs to be put to rest at once. I personally donít believe anyone is putting a stop on teams touring Pakistan. The Lankans played a good neighbor by touring us and we, despite legitimate threats failed to shield them. They might have hatched that fatal attack, but the enemy never forced us to forge our security plan.

And then I was baffled to read our Jolly Good Chairman pinch India by saying they are afraid of playing us because of fear of losing. God knows if it was a brainless adviser who put those words in his mouth or a result of his own frustration venting out, these words could not do any good to Pakistanís cause. India is a powerhouse of cricket and in current circumstances you certainly donít want to mess with the king of the jungle. When you have no friends around, you certainly donít want to make new enemies.

3-Use the media

Media is the most lethal weapon that can be used for oneís own advantage. PCB needs to learn that on fast track. Instead of fruitlessly chanting ďWe are SafeĒ, invite the top names in media to paint a true picture. Harsha Bhogle, Andrew Miller, Vic Marks, Tony Cozier etc are journalist with powerful pens and influential opinions. Their credibility would propel them to write realistic accounts, which in turn should help change perceptions.

For example, entire Karachi is not spilling blood; there are just a few affected areas and National Stadium can host events safely. But the ďGoorasĒ would only believe that if one of their guys inks it. Same goes for the electronic media, cross boarder talk shows, documentaries and game shows would definitely help ease nerves.

4- Events all year around.

Not just an isolated tour and not just cricket alone, you need to chalk a calendar of events to build a healthy image. And by that I mean all sorts of cultural, musical and festive events. Shandur Polo, Gwadar Car Rally, Sports Fishing, Paragliding etc. events that are smaller in scale and relatively easy to organize. Brick by brick, safe hosting of such events will help build a solid wall to ward of all negativism.

5- PPL on fast track Ė Highlight safer venues

A good step taken way too late, but then itís never too late to take a good step. Fate didnít give Naseem Ashraf enough time, Ejaz Butt wasted all his time but now Zaka Ashraf is trying his best to make up for the lost time. PPL could be the best thing to happen for Pakistan cricket in recent years. An event that is already generating positive reviews and huge interest, it would be wise to pump in all available resources and finances and make it a whopping success.

Itís also a good time to introduce new and safer venues to the world. Places like Abbotabad and Muzaffarabad are picturious and have all the facilities to host international events.

In the end, I would like to remind the world that Pakistan are a great sport loving nation and have produced countless starís that have thrilled the audiences. In this time of disparity, we need you to shoulder us in our efforts to defeat terrorism and make the games shine.


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