Pakistan cricket April 20, 2012

Flogged, beaten, dead

We await with trepidation any further attempt to resurrect Bangladesh's tour of Pakistan. What do you do with a horse that has been flogged, beaten, and is already dead?

We await with trepidation any further attempt to resurrect Bangladesh's tour of Pakistan. What do you do with a horse that has been flogged, beaten, and is already dead? This tour isn't toast, it's dog food.

You might have interpreted the length of Bangladesh's proposed visit in two ways. It was either a sensible staged return of international cricket to Pakistan or an indication of Bangladesh's reluctant enthusiasm for the trip. Either way, the PCB and Mustafa Kamal would have accelerated their agendas in the air-conditioned corridors of the ICC. The PCB would hail the return of international cricket to Pakistan, and Kamal would sleep easier over his nomination as the ICC's next vice-president.

Asian cricket is a blemished landscape. Afghanistan is rising, perhaps Bangladesh has risen. Pakistan and Sri Lanka remain flawed but compelling. Above the rush for survival and glory, India rules the skies with power, wealth, captivating personality, and myopic lens that distorts vision.

In general, a bad process produces a bad outcome. Bangladesh's agreement to tour, we discover, was devoid of process except the decision-making process inside Kamal's head. Bangladesh's administrators were perplexed, players were reluctant, a coach stepped down, and a court order prevented the tour from going ahead as planned. Only in Asia; cricket is a metaphor for life, all the chaos, absurdity, and passion thrown in.

Meanwhile, the PCB is to be praised for its desire to return international cricket to Pakistan but this result must not come at all costs. The PCB has always seemed too desperate to make this tour a reality. If the circumstances don't allow, why force it? A weekend break by Bangladesh will be symbolism alone, a trivial argument in the forlorn battles to entice visits by England, Australia, and India.

India has little need for Pakistan or its players. Don't listen to the words, observe the deeds. As short-sighted as the Indian approach is, for let's be clear a successful tour by India would instantly banish many of the barriers that rise like demons to prevent international cricket in Pakistan, it's the realpolitik of international cricket.

Pakistan's strategy is clear albeit painful. Build a thriving cricket culture that strengthens domestic cricket, making it a spectacle for supporters, and build relationships with other cricket boards especially in Asia and independent of India to further Pakistan's international cricket, not superficial alignments as with Kamal but deep bonds. This isn't a short-term agenda. It requires graft, commitment, and an eye for the long game.

The power of Indian cricket, and the power of its whims, is unlikely to be eroded. This is a tragedy because many India fans despair as much with the policies of its cricket board as many outsiders do. Again, this is the Asian way; we get the rulers we don't deserve. Ironically, the demographic view is that only Asia will be able to challenge India, and that challenge is necessary to bring balance to the skewed world of international cricket.

The rest of Asia must challenge its mighty neighbour; an important service for the future health of international cricket. The current plight of Pakistan cricket can be a catalyst to make that future a reality. There can be safety in numbers. It's either that or the Asian nations can look forward to a lifetime of scraps charmingly served at the high table of Indian cricket.

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

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