March 4, 2009

Shootout in Lahore

Stand by me

Andy Zaltzman

The appalling events in Lahore have thrown a cloak of gloom over world cricket, and Pakistan cricket in particular. They have been covered comprehensively on this site and elsewhere by those far better qualified to comment, and far more acutely affected by the acts and their repercussions, than I am. I can add little but the same sorrow for the victims, the same relief that worse was avoided, and the same hope that Pakistan can live on as an international force, that all cricket lovers must be feeling.

Cricket will now have to attempt the impossible balancing act between player and public security and a refusal to bow to a violent microminority. Terrorists disgust and bore me at the best of times, and their self-indulgent, posturing destruction becomes no less repellent and tedious when they assault the world of sport, which is supposed to provide humanity with a temporary escape from the harsh realities of reality.

And cricket needs Pakistan. The Test game had been significantly less vibrant over the last 14 months without them. My first exposure to Pakistan cricket was in the brilliant 1982 series in England, when my nascent cricketing interest was far more intrigued by Mohsin Khan, Imran Khan and Abdul Qadir than it was by Chris Tavare, Ian Greig and Eddie Hemmings.

I was lucky enough to be at The Oval in 1992 to see Waqar Younis blast out Stewart, Atherton, Gooch and Gower in eight thunderously perfect overs of new-ball devastation. Concerted collective action will be necessary to ensure that the Waqars of the future will be able to make the Athertons of the future involuntarily head a barely-seen, almost-supersonic ball over the wicketkeeper for four leg-byes, as happened that day. This is set to be perhaps cricket’s greatest ever challenge.

The top-level international game involves few teams, which is both a strength, as it engenders the ongoing rivalries that have shaped and enlivened the game, and a weakness, as it is seriously compromised by the absence or decline of any of its members.

World cricket has a chequered recent record in acting for the collective good of its nations. It must now do everything in its power to help Pakistan maintain a prominent standing in the international game while its domestic situation remains so depressingly, apparently intractably, vulnerable.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

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Posted by Faizaan on (April 3, 2009, 9:02 GMT)

People need to raise awareness of the fact that there is no such thing as god and religion is nothing more than childish supersition and the lowest form of human weakness. Put the focus on the one life and one shot you have and maybe everyone in the world will appreciate it more. The players in Pakistan have an amazing talent and gift and it is being wasted and they will never get another chance to use it.

Posted by Mustafa Chagla on (March 5, 2009, 11:08 GMT)

A lot of readers here have posted an extremely gloomy picture of Pakistan cricket. Most of you have got it wrong. 1.Following cricket played in Pakistan, one would notice that even with small capacities of grounds, attendances at test matches would not be more than 10% at best. It was saddening to see test criket being played to empty stands. 2.The pitches that were being prepared for matches in Pak were hardly ever upto the mark - dead and batsmen friendly. 3.TV coverage offered for matches staged in Pakistan is probably the worst of the lot. Even with a sweetly timed cover drive, one can hear the hollow knock of the bat. 4.With venues like England suggested now,i can assure everyone that crowd capacities would be much more than what we get,quality of our batsmen would improve by playing on more lively tracks, test matches would be more result oriented & of course, the television coverage would be of superior quality. And pakistan will still continue to churn out superstars.

Posted by Rohan G. on (March 5, 2009, 9:32 GMT)

Glad I'm not a cricket official as I really wouldn't know what to do in this situation. Send your teams to Pakistan or stop them from going? I don't want the terrorists to interfere with game, but surely safety must take priority. But if players don't go, what will happen to cricket in Pakistan? I really hope we can find meaningful ways to support them in their time of need.

I'm another person on the list of people who love Pakistan cricket, actually they got me into cricket in the first place and I'm Australian!! When I saw Abdul Qadir bowl and heard about this ball, "the googly" it sucked me into the game entirely. I've been a fan of Pakistani cricket ever since.

I hope you can find a solution to this terrible problem and the sooner the better.

Posted by daaniyal on (March 5, 2009, 8:23 GMT)

Thanks Andy. Thanks.

Posted by Padmal Kolongahapitiya on (March 5, 2009, 8:01 GMT)

Sri Lanka wanted help Pakistan cricket lovers by sending it's national team to Pakistan in a volatile time. Specially when all other test playing nations refused to come. But Pakistan government and officials did not keep their promise. They did not provide the security they promised. Sri Lankan cricketers and match officials survived with minor injuries but more than few policemen were killed. Who is talking about them, what's going to happen to their families. This is tragic. I feel sorry for Pakistan cricketers and fans.

Posted by Rizwan Takkhar on (March 5, 2009, 7:27 GMT)

Great post bro. I've been shouting about this since the incident too, to just show a little positivity. Pakistani cricket will never die. We'll make it come up!

Posted by Muzaffar Saeed on (March 5, 2009, 6:48 GMT)

Tony: Dont u ever say that "Pakistan as a country is Finished". There Tony: Dont u ever say that "Pakistan as a country is Finished". There are bad times for every nation but I am 110% sure we will bounce back as country, as a nation and of course as greatest cricketing nation. There will be many Waqars in the coming years with their toe crushing yorkers making it hell for the batsmenare bad times for every nation but I am 110% sure we will bounce back as country, as a nation and ofcourse as greatest cricketing nation. There will be many Waqars in the coming years with their toe crushing yorkers making it hell for the batsmen

Posted by bala on (March 5, 2009, 6:21 GMT)

I think it was Inzy who told the media some time ago that terrorists thrive on public sympathy and they would do nothing against cricketers as the public opinion would turn against them. How wrong he has been,the terrorists(freedom fighters for some)clearly don't give a damn about public opinion.

Posted by SJ on (March 5, 2009, 5:42 GMT)

Great post Andy!!This is all we need, a support from the world..but i'm utterly dissapointed on the reaction from Haroon lorgat or BCCI..Indian board has already offered that they can accomodate the world cup matches which are scheduled to be played in Pakistan. Is this a support or exploiting the oppotunity??Let me remind all, this was not the first time cricket or cricketer were attacked..i still remember the threats to pakistani team from extremist elements in india and even the incident of pitch digging in Mumbai a night before match. Its high time that the entire world take the stand and support each other. I'm sure people of the world "minus the leaders" can make this planet a liveable place again. I'm sure sanity will prevail in the end.

Posted by Shafiq on (March 5, 2009, 5:25 GMT)

The incident a shame to pak administrators...We are sorry to the whole cricket world. Thanks for this article & thanks for the support all over the world. This was an attack by US-shit politics on pakistan (previously in mumbai on india) to throw us back in dark times....pakistani people are hit the worst. we need shoulders not abuses.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.

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