New age May 15, 2007

Redemption comes cheap, anger comes quickly

This week Pakistan cricket begins a new era

This week Pakistan cricket begins a new era. It might be a new era that begins without a coach, the fastest bowler, and the presumed captain-in-waiting. It might begin with a rookie captain and a novice deputy but it is a new era that begins with guarded optimism—as every new era should.

Pakistan cricket is a fragile creature that carries the hopes and dreams of millions around the globe, sometimes fulfills them, but too often lurches from one disaster to the next. But as my fellow writer Nauman Niaz put it in a comment in response to a previous blog, redemption comes cheap.

Today we stand in optimism behind Shoaib Malik, an intellectual lightweight—see Nadia Khan’s interview if you disagree—but an enthusiastic heavyweight. Many of us dare to believe that this time it will be different, youth will sweep away the anti-professionalism of Big Inzy’s era. We have gifted redemption for nothing in return. The rest of the world—including Pakistan fans of the pragmatic school—believes us redemption-comes-cheap wallas to be mad fools. And so be it—it’s more fun that way.

Now all Shoaib and the Boyz need do is to vindicate us. When they face World Cup finalists Sri Lanka in the furnace of Abu Dhabi, Pakistan will be the ones with a point to prove, hungry for success. Sri Lanka, shorn of their mighty bowlers and sapped of desire, should be the Bangladesh to Pakistan’s India.

If the Boyz stumble at this first surmountable hurdle they might rediscover that just as redemption comes cheap, anger comes quickly. The next two years will be a rocky road and we should be patient in judgment—but sometimes it is too hard to bite your tongue.

This moment feels like a step into the unknown. I hope it stretches into a triumphant leap. That is exactly what the cheap redemption of millions deserves.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here