Pakistan in India 2012-13 December 24, 2012

We need a longer season of cricket goodwill

It is the season of goodwill. Pakistan's cricketers are in India to restart the healing process for fractured political relationships.

It is the season of goodwill. A charity single is at number one on the music charts, showing that the fiercest foes, the management, players, and supporters of Everton and Liverpool football clubs in this case, can unite like brothers for a worthy cause. Now Pakistan's cricketers are in India to restart the healing process for fractured political relationships.

Let's face it, cricket between India and Pakistan is simply a tactical move in the great game of political power in South Asia, a game that players and spectators are helpless to influence. When will the politics end and the cricket run for freedom? When will goodwill no longer be confined to a season or two?

Not much has changed really. India's complaints against Pakistan over the Mumbai attacks linger on. Pakistanis are still excluded from the Indian Premier League. A tour of Pakistan by a major cricket nation seems impossible. The cricket boards blow hot and cold in their relationship. Players remain friends. Spectators want the contest. Not much changes but the cricket comes and goes.

After years of watching this dance, I'd quite like it to end. We've missed out too often on Sachin Tendulkar and Shahid Afridi, the box office stars of the last decade, competing against each other. We'll never see that individual contest again. Great dramas and unforgettable moments were within our reach and we spurned them. Histories were never made, tales of glory unable to be told.

The glory in this upcoming series does not lie in its outcome. For what it's worth, India must be strong favourites for the Twenty20 matches and Pakistan will challenge better in 50-overs cricket. But the value is in competing, whatever political twist and turn or financial imperative made the series a reality. The challenge for politicians and administrators is to ensure that cricket between India and Pakistan becomes the rule, not an exception.

I don't think it is a cliché that cricket can help normalise relationships. I believe it can. There is nothing more normal to the human spirit than to compete. Familiarity can breed contempt but it is more likely to foster tolerance and respect. The more we play the less politically loaded each contest will become. The single greatest initiative to encourage peace in the region would be to mandate a full bilateral cricket series every two years, enshrined in the constitutions of both India and Pakistan. I know it will never happen but I'm equally confident it would work.

There is nothing special about cricket but it happens to hold a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of South Asia. That's why cricket can succeed where politicians obsessed with power and money have failed for half a century - if we give it a chance.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    What a formidable Team Pakistan could be ifitretired Oldies such as Younis Kham and Misbah at least from the ODis ? This is now long overdue .

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    The equation has been clear for some years now . Misbah cannot justify his position in the Team as a TBatsman . He won,t retire of course . He should be retired .

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    Younis Khan , Misbah and Younis Khan after such brilliant start given by Hafeez and Jamshed made batting look so difficult on an easy paced wicket . They as they often do destroyed Pakistan,s chance of an easy victory .

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    If India wins the second ODI the architect for their victory will be Younis Khan and Misbah with their dismal batting.. In this match as they often do when Pakistan sin a very comfortable position they start batting at a pace which places Pakistan in a desperate position . They should be retired . Period .

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    Misbah,s bad patch has been continuing fornmore than three years now . He has been a total failure in ODIs for many years now . It now looks he should retire not only from ODIs but cricket itself . After a brilliant start by the openers Younis Khan and Misbah made a mountain of a easy task and a very easy paced wicket and handed the match back to the Indians . Misbah and Younis Khan should retire definitely from ODIs if they retire from Tests as it will be even better.

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    What disappointing ODIs Batsman Younis Khan is . He comes in to bat when the openers have given Pakistan a great start . However , he bats making a run per two balls . He hadthe opportunity to thelp in taking Pakistan,s score to alevel of 325 . He is now well past playing ODIs . Let's see what Misbah does . He is another cricketer totally unsuitable for ODIs .

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    Younis Khan is a great disappointment as An ODI Batsman . He came in to bat after A great start given by the openers on a very easy paced wicket . He bats almost always as ifheis batting in the 4th inning to draw a match . Can the selectors not see that he is no longer fit for ODIs ?

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    Hafeez and Jamshed have given Pakistan a great start . Now we have to see how Pakistan,s middle order Misbah , Younis and Shoaib Malik perform . These three are not natural ODI cricketers . They always need to pace their innings and when the occasion demands to score fast from the first ball they can almost never do it. Misbah for one overdue for retirement from ODIs

  • testli5504537 on January 3, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    It has been a long time since Misbah performed . In thelast ODI Misbah not only failed as a batsman he dropped an easy catch of Dhoni when he was on 16. But for that miserable lapse India would have been out for less than 60 . Misbah should retire from ODIs . Hafeez should captain both T 20s Team and the ODIs Teamm

  • testli5504537 on January 1, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    Well so far Malik and Younis have performed on the tour. This tells us that Pakistan need 2 batsmen for each middle and top order position. I think that this should be our side from now on T20: Jamshed, Shehzad, Hafeez(c), Malik, Shafiq/ Razzaq, U.Akmal, K.Akmal, Afridi, Raza Hasan, Umar Gul, Ajmal Test: Hafeez,Shafiq, Azhar, Younis, Yousuf, Misbah(c), Adnan, Gul, Rehman, Ajmal, Junaid ODI: Jamshed,Azhar Ali/Shafiq, Malik, Younis(c), Umar Akmal/Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal, Hammad Azam, Raza Hasan, Gul, Ajmal

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