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April 14, 2010

2010: Summer of Pakistan

A union of the spirits of cricket and commerce

Kamran Abbasi

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England, whose multicultural credentials are reinforced each day, is the country most able to support neutral internationals © Getty Images

Necessity is the mother of invention, and the needs of commerce have invented a new form of cricket sponsorship. Gone are brewers, banks, and airlines. Enter the Marylebone Cricket Club, the most illustrious club in the world of cricket, the owners of the home of cricket, and new best friends of the Pakistan Cricket Board; egg and bacon ties sponsoring the egg and paratha loving cricket team.

First, a reservation: a sponsorship deal is never an act of pure charity. There has to be something in it for the sponsor. In the modern era of international sport, that something has to have a component of financial gain. The MCC has seen the commercial opportunity of hosting more international matches at Lord’s. A new honours board for neutral matches and soundbites from the media launch suggest neutral Tests will become a regular feature of an English Summer. This sponsorship is under the banner of the spirit of cricket but is also in the spirit of commerce.

Unless additional use turns the Lord’s turf into the ploughed field of Wembley, this is a commercial move that must be welcomed. One or two international matches each season are insufficient opportunity for spectators to view the highest standard of cricket at the most appealing venue. England, whose multicultural credentials are reinforced each day, is the country most able to support neutral internationals. Lord’s is a venue that puts the deserts of Arabia and the skating clubs of Canada to the sword.

The MCC’s intervention is also a helping hand. Who’d have imagined that the MCC would play a role in saving Pakistan cricket? Certainly not Idris Baig, the unfortunate Pakistani umpire debagged by MCC players on their first tour of Pakistan. The PCB requires revenue for survival. Pakistan’s cricketers require top international cricket to develop—and I’d prefer that development in the testing environment of an English summer than the comfort of an Eastern dustbowl.

The PCB, for all its notions that the world is set against it, should be grateful to all the nations who have prolonged its survival, and masked its incompetence, by offering a venue for international matches. The best method of repaying that favour is with competitive cricket supported by a full house.

With Australia as the opposition, we can be sure of half of that: English and Pakistani fans will unite to make Lord’s anything but a neutral venue. Imagine last year’s World T20 Final but several degrees worse for Pakistan’s opposition. I’m making a special request for a return of the Pakistani bus. But that requires a performance from the players which, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, is a known unknown.

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Posted by Khair ul Alam on (May 10, 2010, 14:42 GMT)

Can someone tell Afridi to avoid saying "I" and try to use "We" like instead of "I want to bat first" say "We would like to bat first". The captain shouldn't behave as if he owns the team. I am thinking there may be some truth to what Intikhab says about Pak players.

Posted by Ram on (April 27, 2010, 14:40 GMT)

Could be a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. Young players like U.Akmal and Aamir can be groomed better. Especially for Akmal it will be a real test for his technique. Maybe these constant foreign tours can also make the pakistanis bond together better?

Posted by Muhammad Saidul Haque on (April 25, 2010, 15:21 GMT)

Well, west indian pitch obviously supports for the genuine spinners although the Windies pitches are familiar & suitable for the fast bowlers. But, seemingly this tournament will definitely be focused by real genuine spinners if the spinner would do their great job. So, Pakistan should use at least 3 specialist spinners to dominate over the opponent's Batsmen to control the run-rate. Afridi & team management must have to analysis this bowling operation before the tournament starts. Good Luck Pakistan !

Posted by Danish Abbasi on (April 19, 2010, 0:30 GMT)

ECB has certainly played a role of saviour for cricket hungry Pakistani Crickent team. As no test playing nation was willing to visit pakistan destroyed by every day Suicide attacks and bomb explosions. I agree with Kamran bhai that PCB shoudl reciprocate this inititave by giving top quality cricket to cricket loving English people. To win and lose is the settled phenomenon in every sport but you should compete till the end to preseve the dignity of country in general and cricket in Particular. So i would expect our boys to give their hundred percent in this battle with ever professional aussie outfit. Margin of error against the australian team is very minimum always, the structure of their cricket is very competitive and stabilized. So lets hope that we all will witness the highest quality of cricket in the said series from both the sides. Cricket today is more like a battle of nerves, whoever would be able to maintain their composure certainly will come out on top at the given day. Lets keep our fingers crossed for this gigantic battle between the sheer talent of pakistan team and method coupled with professionalism of australian team.

Posted by rc on (April 18, 2010, 11:41 GMT)

I dont support paskistan or australia but i hope they put a good contest. After weeks of the ipl i would love to watch a good test match.

Posted by Latif Rasqbool on (April 17, 2010, 15:56 GMT)

IPL has been such a success despite T20 world champion team players not playing. This is so hurting. Modi is not thinking of involving 1 team from abroad where 4 Indian players will need to be takento join IPL. The rules are the countries business houses can bid for 1 team . This team will have players from their country. But 4 foreign players(4 Indians in each team) will need to be part of playing 11. One franchise each has been offered to Eng ,SA, Aus,WI,and Bangladesh. NZ and Pakistan are likely to miss out. The idea is to get more chunk viewership of these countries and it seems like another idea that will work and make IPL more powerful. Damn this Modi . Whats he ? A Living management guru . Further news is that each franchise will cost somethnig like 80 million $ base prices. The IPL will then not only be played only in India but home matches will be scheduled in these countries . Wow Bengalis will go over moon to get into stadium. I hate to say it but IPL is growing bigger :( :(

Posted by EAMiran on (April 17, 2010, 6:10 GMT)

Larry Zimmerman: Charity? Thought it was a fair bet, what with your absolute conviction. Put your money where your mouth is or shut up.

Posted by Mudassar Rana on (April 16, 2010, 23:39 GMT)

we should really appreciate the charity being offered to us. buy could the governments of these countries be slightly more charitable and stop supporting military and elected dictators in our country, and whilst there at it stop supporting insurgencies. then there wont be terrorist attacks and you could play the game in our country. @zimmerman never under estimate pakistan we are a nation of lions led by donkeys (to borrow a phrase) and you never know when this dozy lion turns back in vengence.

Posted by vish n on (April 16, 2010, 22:16 GMT)

guys .. just think .. there's a bit of politics involved here.MCC as an extension of ECB currently is isolated in ICC corridors of power with BCCI,ACB & CSA forming a coterie.Obviously ECB/MCC wont let go of the power they held for so long-the best way- join hands with PCB ..!! enemy of an enemy is friend.ECB will also bank on NZ board and the Bangladesh Board to form a clique.They know they cant count on SRILANKA & WIndies as they survive on BCCI largesse.SO its an oppurtunistic arrangement.If and when BCCI and ECB becomes friends again PCB will be dropped like the proverbial hot potato.So its all well & good saying MCC as a saviour but its the backroom politics thats at play here.SO chill and lets not get overjoyed with MCC patronage and be professional about it.

Posted by Nightwatchman on (April 16, 2010, 21:39 GMT)

MCC is doing what the East India Company did a few centuries ago. They will firt take over PCB and then Pakistan.

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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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