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November 19, 2009

2010: Summer of Pakistan

English cricket embraces Pakistan

Kamran Abbasi
Giles Clarke is being kept busy by Twenty20 developments, England v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Trent Bridge, June 8, 2008
 © AFP
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The history of cricket relations between England and Pakistan is a tale of unpleasant controversy. From the early days when an MCC touring party debagged a Pakistani umpire, doused him with water, and left him to run home naked, our cup runneth over with disagreement and general nastiness.

Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana, Chris Broad and Lahore cricket stumps, Ian Botham and mothers-in-law, Imran Khan and David Constant, Imran Khan and Ian Botham, Norman Tebbit and his cricket test. Javed Miandad and Aaqib’s jumper, Mike Atherton and buffoon journalists, the Two Ws and ball tampering, Inzamam and The Oval, a glorious catalogue of conflict and disrespect.

Now these might have just been the growing pains of a young country coming of age or the frustration of an imperial power seething at the uppity behaviour of a former colony. The socio-political analysis could take 50 years to write. The outcome, however, of each spat has been to strain the relationships between cricketers, cricket boards, and populations—both native and expatriate.

Enter Giles Clarke, Urdu speaking chairman of the ECB, and the man who has extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan cricket in its time of crisis. Clearly, hosting next year’s series between Pakistan and Australia will be beneficial to the ECB, but the main purpose is to offer Pakistan cricket a safe haven in the midst of its firestorm. This will be achieved through the PCB effectively running the series with help from the ECB, and taking the lion’s share of ticket and television revenue.

These issues matter less to Pakistan fans, especially the many hundreds of thousands in England, than the prospect of seeing their team in regular action. It’s the cricket that matters. Pakistan fans will want to see a strong, confident side tackle Australia and England next summer, and the current captaincy shambles is especially unwelcome at this moment of optimism. Another concern is that the PCB will find some extraordinary way to look this gift horse in the mouth and smash its teeth.

At the launch event for Pakistan’s “home” series against Australia, a landmark home series that will have Lord’s at its epicentre, Giles Clarke declared that relations between the ECB and PCB have never been better, and reiterated his desire to support Pakistan cricket at this time of crisis. He has backed his words with actions. The series will take place. Former England captains Mike Atherton and Mike Brearley, John Barclay of the MCC, and David Morgan of the ICC, all supported the event and the desire to ensure the survival of Pakistan cricket.

It’s usually easy, and often fair, to criticise administrators, but this is one initiative that should earn plaudits for those responsible, as well as those showing solidarity at a time when it is fashionable to knock Pakistan and its people. The Pakistani community in the United Kingdom now needs to respond by making next year’s tours a thunderous success. Pass that test and we may see Pakistan back in 2011 to take on India.

Love spreads.

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

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Posted by Shamit on (November 21, 2009, 19:46 GMT)

Giles Clark can speak in Urdu....this is brand new information for me (laughs)!!!!!! :D

Posted by Arshad Chaudhry on (November 21, 2009, 10:45 GMT)

The ECB and in particular, Giles Clarke are very supportive of Pakistan at this difficult time in it's cricket history. We should respond by ensuring the success of the home series against Australia and I hope that as Pakistan is playing the "common enemy" it will get a lot of support from English fans too!

Posted by Farrak on (November 21, 2009, 8:08 GMT)

Good article - the role of ECB must be applauded to welcome pak in England; The 'Urdu' speaking Giles is a nice chap. As you say everyone especially the Brit Pak community should got out of their ways to make 2010 a resounding success.

Nice to have met you at the ECB event at Lord the other evening. I won the pak shirt, no hard feelings.

Only one negative comment ... why do pakistan appoint characters such as Ijaz Butt in high profile positions? A positive, vibrant person like a salesman with excellent communication skills must be a pre-requisite for these positions. I was very disappointed the way the PCB Chairman presented himself at the ECB event.

Posted by Matthew Khan on (November 21, 2009, 5:02 GMT)

A good article, until the last sentence.

Why fret over Pakistan's tour of India. II suggest Pakistan utilize ECB and England as a viable option to financial strength and cricketing excellence.

Posted by Prakash2007 on (November 21, 2009, 4:04 GMT)

No Article is complete without Mentioning India... We do get lot of coverage dont we....

Posted by AM on (November 21, 2009, 0:42 GMT)

I agree wholeheartedly with the author. It is at a time of crisis that one knows who one's friends really are. Let us forget the bitterness of the past and for a change let us simply laud the efforts of those countries who want to ensure that Pakistan's international cricket stays afloat. The first time I read about the idea that Pakistan should play its "home series" in England was in an article written by a Kiwi. It appears that New Zealand also wants Pakistan's cricket to survive. That is why Pakistan's current "home series" is being played in New Zealand. So hats off to both England and New Zealand. May this be the start of better cricket relations between Pakistan and New Zealand on the one hand and Pakistan and England on the other.

Posted by amer on (November 20, 2009, 19:45 GMT)

Kamran, Well said. We should recognize and commend the tangible help and support provided by the ECB in this manner.

Posted by Krish on (November 20, 2009, 16:52 GMT)

It can be a cracking series if Pakistan play to their potential or can reduce to a typical British damp squib if they play terribly, like when they collapsed to under 60 in each innings in Sharjah, during the Pakistan-Australia in Sharjah last time when they played at neutral venues. Pakistan has the talented batsmen, variety in bowling to unsettle the Australians and on their day Australia will find them more than a handful. The 64,000 pound sterling question is will Pakistan's day come?

Posted by khalil on (November 20, 2009, 12:12 GMT)

It is an understanding for the benefit of both the parties & nothing more than that.But it is better for Pak cricket. You have mentioned the bitterness between the two sides. It is deeply rooted. You will see that bias still existing,when their spectators support Aus against Pak through slogans/newspaper articles.So don,t be amused much because their bossy & colonist attitude will not go that easily.

Posted by Sorcerer on (November 20, 2009, 11:48 GMT)

There are no favors here - from any sides at all. It is pure commercial sense to accommodate Pakistan cricket in England.

If anything in case the English cricket authorities were so much eager to endear Pakistan and extend a hand of friendship, they would have never pushed for reversal of the earlier decision to term as draw the Test sullied by Hair in Oval. Pakistan were wronged there and later ICC punished Hair and the least the ECB could have done was to respect that the dignity of Pak cricket had been hurt as a result of a rogue umpire.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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