Edgbaston Cricket Ground: To write or not to write? With all honesty writing this piece is perhaps the most burdensome task I have had to carry out. I am clueless as to what our cricketers might be thinking but as a fanatic cricket fan myself; it feels as if all the colurs and flavous of life have lost their taste.
We were told by the Chief Selector before departure that this is the BEST available talent in Pakistan. Now if this is the BEST that our BEST can deliver, I would rather happily settle with the ones who are not the best. For sure, they would display a better performance on half the expenses.
The spirit of Pakistanis living in UK is truly commendable. Knowing the fact that their team is out from serious business, they left no stone unturned in showing up at the ground in full force. The green flags, painted faces, Pakistan shirts, whistle etc were visible signs that the fans were ready to wash away all ills, all they wanted was a courageous effort from their team, alas, but that was not to be.
Aside from this fanfare, there was a depressing scene. Suddenly out of nowhere three cars stopped at the protocol gates. Men in suits rushed out to make way for the charismatic actor we know as Akshay Kumar. Such protocol is rare in UK but the Indian High Commission made sure that their illustrious hero was properly looked after. Later on he even got a chance to share his thoughts on live Tv.
However, just a few steps away from that protocol glare stood two legends of Pakistan cricket, Sadiq and Mushtaq Muhammad, looking clueless as Mushtaq Bhai was unable to find a ticket and was fanatically working on his mobile to find some help. We don’t have a tradition of honoring our heroes, these two men have given countless memorable performance on these grounds and today, even finding a simple ticket to watch the match seemed to be asking too much. No point in mentioning that the Pakistani embassy or the team management had such things anywhere on their priority list.
Also present at the venue were former PM Shaukat Aziz and my child hood hero, Kamran Khan Sb. While I was recording public comments for Geo News, a smart enough woman, who had her face painted with tons of makeup came up to introduce herself as Sonia Khan, super model from Pakistan. The lady wanted her comments to be heard. Let me be honest, I am an ardent model fan and love to watch their tempting pictures on glossy magazines. But here I was like, Super Model Sonia Khan, who? I kept scratching my head but failed to dig any answers and surely the likes of Vinny and Eman Ali won’t be much impressed reading this.
Inside the ground Indian fans outnumbered Green flags, but their superiority ended right at the number count. Talk about being charged up and supporting their team, Pakistani fans knew no boundaries and their Josh and Jazba over-powered anything coming from the Indian camp. The good thing was that both were seated together and nothing unpleasant happened throughout the match.
The ground management played their part in keeping fans on their toes, every boundary hit by Pakistan was welcomed with our second anthem Dil Dil Pakistan running on huge speakers. It’s hard to put into words how the patriotism inside you starts pumping in such settings. Identically, every time India grabbed a wicket Chak Dai India was played to heat things up.
Sadly, the guy playing DIl DIl Pakistan had a relaxed day, had it not been for a few strokes hit by Asad and Umar, he would have spend his day sipping coffee and munching donuts, although Indians kept spoiling his party.
There wasn’t anything much for the Pakistani fans to cheer about. The first shower around the 10th over washed away all their hysteria. There was a joke running that Indians mixed some Pav Bhaji in the rain that didn’t go down well with our Chicken Karhai loving payers.
With every falling wicket, I saw more gloomy faces and faint smiles. Wahab Riaz’s family was also present on the ground. As soon as he walked in to bad his younger sister started reciting countless Duas. Wahab couldn’t survive much and tears rolled down her cheeks.
The scenes that I saw outside the stadium will need parental guidance to describe. My vocabulary for Punjabi slangs grew by heaps and bounds. Youths were furious, they wanted to taste blood specially that of Akmal, Malik and Farhat. Already, there were chants to get Afridi and Younis back in the team. After 12 years of reporting, all this looked so familiar.
We have a habit of looking towards Divine help and individuals to bail us out, we don’t believe in building and strengthening our system. Until we don’t that, our youths would continue to be enraged, we would keep on recalling used stars and similar disasters will continue to haunt us.