It was just yesterday when I was listening to author Anatol Lievin explaining to the audience why he had titled his latest book on Pakistan as “Pakistan: A Hard Country.” He spoke about the reserves of resilience displayed by Pakistanis who have defied all predictions of the country becoming a ‘failed State.’
Well if he had followed the fortunes of Pakistan’s cricket team, he would probably be writing a sequel by now, for Pakistan’s cricket team reflects the character of this nation. Down, but never out! Beaten, battered, but when pushed against the wall, ready to fight right back.
How else does one explain the fact that a band of players, never a cohesive whole due to the constant chops and changes in its composition, denied the opportunity to play against international teams in their own country through no fault of their own, and treated as a pariah due to the doings of some of their own keeps on coming back in the face of adversity.
The resurgence and stability that has resulted in the current series win against the England in the UAE, which people have dubbed as a home away from home for the Pakistan team does not take anything away from the way they approached the contest. Sane heads were clearly ruling the roost. Even if Whatmore is breathing down Mohsin Khan’s neck, to his credit, he played the role of a mentor, that a coach is supposed to be to the tee.
Misbah emerged as a true leader of men, and led his young, barring Younis who can no longer be branded as young, band of exuberant boys with a great deal of maturity. The wickets suited the spinners, and it was good to see them once again being the reasons for victory, reviving memories of the Indian spin quartet, and our own Abdul Qadir, Iqbal Qasim and Tauseef. We see too much of the slam bang kind of stuff that goes by the name of cricket nowadays, and a big thank you from an oldie like me for providing joy through the ‘real thing,’ Test cricket!
So, today, the nation celebrates a whitewash. Celebrate a drubbing given to the team that comes from the land where cricket originated from. Forget about the cases being processed by the Supreme Court or the fate of the politicians to be impacted by the decisions. They have never brought this nation any joy. Forget, for the moment, also the fact that one of the tainted bowlers, Mohammad Aamir has come out of prison, having completed his sentence! Today we celebrate, despite the poverty, the hunger, and lack of basic amenities like shelter, water, electricity or gas, and unmindful of the sky rocketing prices, for the times when we can celebrate with gay abandon are few and far between.
People say religion and cricket are the only binding force for the people of Pakistan. I maintain that cricket is the only one, for here, all Pakistanis, literally under one flag, are able to share in the joy the men in green provide us. If this is the new opium of the masses, so be it. For a while at least, reality can take a back seat. Let me listen to the famous calypso: I don’t like cricket… I LOVE it!