It’s not cricket, dear Kiwis!

Ali Sajjad

Cricket used to be a game of gentlemen all over the world. Decades ago, match fixing struck it. Now, politics in the name of security has maligned its spirit. Simply, it’s not just cricket for a visiting team to outclass the hosts without playing a ball and walk off the field.

The events lately unfolding after New Zealand called off their tour of Pakistan since the last Friday have triggered a point-scoring spree among the government and cricket functionaries of our side. Not to forget that the Kiwis were visiting Pakistan after an 18-year of gap. Their last tour had come to an abrupt end after the French engineers’ bus was bombed. The Kiwis repeated the history in 2021 when they called off the tour on the day of the first ODI in Rawalpindi. This time, there had been no such untoward incident, but the visitors insisted they had been warned of a terror attack, and that the threat was so intense that they were not able not stay in Pakistan anymore.

The government tried their best to convince the Kiwis that a foolproof security arrangement had been in place for them. But sport is what needs worriless settings for the players to take the opponents head-on. The New Zealand team has left Pakistan leaving a trail of questions and lessons for us.

The first question is about the handling of the issue. Did we handle the whole fiasco the way it would have been? Well, yes and no. As soon as the news broke out that the Kiwis decided to pull out of the tour on security threats, every government functionary issued tweets or tickers, whatever was their cup of tea, to show their concerns on the development. There is no harm in showing concerns on an issue of a national interest, but the thing is they must have something concrete to say something.

Consider the statement of an important minister in the federal cabinet, who called unilateral decision of New Zealand’s cricket team to cancel tour to Pakistan a ‘conspiracy’. The minister, however, chose not to explain the nature of the ‘conspiracy’.

The Pakistan Cricket Board got emotional too. Ramiz Raja, the PCB chairman, turned to his Twitter handle: “Crazy day it has been! Feel so sorry for the fans and our players. Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it’s not shared!! Which world is NZ living in?? NZ will hear us at ICC”.

Well, Mr Raja should have kept his cards close to his chest until the ICC session was convened.

In the whole fiasco, the prime minister played really well. He spoke to his NZ counterpart, tried to explain his point of view to her and later on moved on.

The hosts could have played well too. They devastated Pakistan’s reputation by pulling out of the tour in unbecoming way. The Black Caps had been working with Pakistani security agencies for months and after a thorough consideration, they moved ahead with the tour. They should have been clear crystal about the security threats received to them from an unidentified source. That is not sportsman spirit. After days, now, the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is talking sense. NZC Chief Executive David White is talking about the restaging of the Pakistan series.

Dear Kiwis, hopefully, you will be playing in Pakistan very soon. Cricket is a gentleman’s game; let’s treat each other the way gentlemen treat each other.