Jarrod Kimber
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One half of The Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

A contest that brings cricket alive

The game can often seem dreary, predictable and endless. Not when India and Pakistan play each other

Jarrod Kimber

June 15, 2013

Comments: 45 | Text size: A | A

Shoaib Malik erupts after taking a wicket, India v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Kolkata, January 3, 2013
India v Pakistan: something to lose sleep over © BCCI
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During the last World Twenty20 I had a chat with a senior cricket writer who wanted to quit cricket. He had spent a long time writing about cricket, and just thought there were more important things he could have written about. For a minute, I argued the opposition. But the truth is, I could see his point.

I mean, what is writing about cricket really? It involves travelling to summer-drenched places (and England) and sitting in a usually comfortable glassed box where you are fed free food while writing about someone who is trying not to be hit by a bouncer so you don't tap on your crumb-riddled keyboard that they have a weakness, before ignoring the next ball to look at a stream of tweets saying essentially the same thing.

That is probably cricket writing at its very worst.

At its best, well it's still a lot of those things, but you get to see something that actually moves you. Something original. Something funny. Something horrific. Something that you love.

Yet, mid-tournament blues can still come in. The thought that this isn't really that important. I could be writing about an animal that is being wiped out. An atrocity that people are ignoring. Or outing a businessman for pouring poison into a school playground. Instead I'm trying to work out how to write about Trott's strike rate of 87 in a losing total for the 1743rd time.

A few days after my chat with the writer about cricket's lack of importance, I was at the game that is often the most hyped, most underplayed and most important to cricket. India v Pakistan.

Australia and England might have been at it for longer, but really for most Aussies and Poms, the Ashes is just a thing that happens. I doubt many fans lose sleep over the result. Cricket is not the favourite sport in England; if it is in Australia, it's by default. Australia and England are trade partners; they share Naomi Watts, Germaine Greer and the Bee Gees. You can travel between the two pretty easily. Australia has not attacked England, nor has England retaliated in quite some time. Individual groups based on political and religious beliefs do not plan to do the other country harm.

It's great that the Ashes exists, and cricket is lucky to have it. But it's of less and less cultural importance these days. Australia no longer see England as the mother country. Young Australians don't flock over here to work. More and more Aussies have completely different mother countries. Mostly countries that have no interest in cricket at all. Cricket gets less important by the decade in English society. It's seen by many as a posh sport; state schools don't really play it. If your posh or Asian parents don't introduce it, you'd have to find it by accident to get involved.

For many reasons, most blatantly obvious, the India-Pakistan series is far more important. It has more people involved. Many of those people do lose sleep over the result. Many take the matches incredibly seriously. It's important. It's not front-page news, it is the news.

An Indian fan recently told me that Imran Khan was overrated and Pakistan were a fourth-tier nation. It wasn't sane. It was fanatical. It was India v Pakistan.

And I get it. I'm told by Asian fans I often don't get the culture. That as a white man, I could never understand it. Of course these same fans tell me exactly what is wrong with England or Australia quite often. If I don't understand it after six years of writing and fighting about cricket, I never will.

Let me explain the culture as I see it. Pakistan fans can handle losing a tournament, but not losing to India. Indian fans can handle losing a tournament, but not losing to Pakistan. That is not unique. There is barely a sport in the world without this rivalry. Collingwood wants to beat Carlton, the Lakers want to beat the Celtics, the Celtics want to beat the Rangers, Jennifer Jones wants to beat Kelly Scott, and Royal College wants to beat St Thomas' College.

 
 
Watching the fans, it felt like something. Like this game was actually needed. That it wasn't just something that was happening, that it was happening for a reason. That it should be covered. That I should be there
 

The next part is a mixture of personal history and nonsense. The final bit includes wars and weapons. It stems from ugliness. But you put it all together and you have the world's most important sporting rivalry. And the only two teams that could completely reincarnate a dead rubber.

Yet, before the World Twenty20 match, I felt no extra excitement. I was merely on my way to another cricket match. I was jaded, tired, and bored of T20 matches I could barely remember the next day. Even with the crowd cramming in, and the game starting, I was still not excited.

Then I looked around. And suddenly I saw something amazing. Indians and Pakistanis cheering next to each other. Now I've been to a college basketball match that had a brawl. I've seen pictures of football fans ripping each other apart. And I once went to a suburban Aussie Rules game that ended when every supporter in the ground went onto the field.

And here I was with the world's biggest sporting rivalry, between two countries that are in constant arguments. That have nuclear weapons as deterrents. That war, fight, scrap, blame, curse and mock each other all the time. And their fans were cheering like mad men or sulking like babies, a few feet from each other.

So I left the press box and went to watch the match.

Indian fans abuse Rohit. And Pakistan fans abuse Akmal and Malik. Suresh Raina shushed the crowd in a cheeky way, and even the Pakistanis loved him for it. I saw a Pakistani man dance with an Indian. And two Indian guys accidentally head-butt each other while dancing.

Fans from both countries abused me for being English; I never stopped to correct them.

Pakistani supporters stare mournfully at the screen for the longest time when their team does something really stupid. Indian fans will all turn in and discuss any bad moments like their conversation can help solve them. The Indian crowd will chant Sachin's name even though he is not there. A Pakistani man without a Pakistan shirt on seems almost impossible.

No matter the shot, if it makes runs, it is awesome. People with face-paint are more likely to dance. People with wigs are more likely to scream. The mobile phone is an active member of the experience.

Pakistani fans will leave once the result is obvious, but for hours after the game they will roam the streets outside the stadium. Indian fans will cheer the TV interviews like it's another boundary.

It was just another cricket match, and it wasn't just another cricket match.

I loved it. Every second of it, even the bit where I was called English. Watching the fans, it felt like something. Like this game was actually needed. That it wasn't just something that was happening, that it was happening for a reason. That it should be covered. That I should be there.

I wish they could play five-Test series in both countries all the time. I wish I could be at every India-Pakistan match. I wish every cricket match felt like this one. I wish the fans would have opportunities to troll each other every couple of months. I wish the conflict would end, but that the cricket passion never does.

Today I'll head to Edgbaston jaded. But no matter how much this game doesn't matter, this tournament doesn't matter, and this format of cricket doesn't matter, I know I'll feel something. I'll be glad I was there. I'll cherish every moment of this contest. Probably even the rain breaks. I'll leave my glass cocoon of comfort and stand among the fans. I'll be glad I did.

This match, like all India-Pakistan matches, is important, because of the history, and because of the now. That they happen at all is a miracle. And I'm glad I get the chance to be at them. Especially as I'm a jaded white guy who doesn't understand.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by   on (June 17, 2013, 7:06 GMT)

yesterdays match england vs new zealand there was a No ball kane williamson play last ball

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (June 17, 2013, 1:14 GMT)

nice write up jarrod....The true cricket fan wants to see Indo-Pak cricket tests- and yes - 5 test series.....hope this comes soon.....:)

Posted by Unconstitutional_PCB_Chief on (June 16, 2013, 18:24 GMT)

India Pakistan game brings two nations to halt. Unfortunately we did not see the same sprit in this Champions Trophy 2013. From Pakistani point of view it was a quite sub standard where as India showed up fully prepared for the Champions Trophy. Historically India and Pakistan learn from each other and apply the lesson learned cricketing strategies. However, at this time it is Pakistan needs to learn from India's experience, how to improve the quality of cricket and elevate their performance from sub standard to high standard.

Posted by SamRoy on (June 16, 2013, 17:20 GMT)

Jarrod.. well written. Congratulations. One small blot though. Nobody in India and Pakistan wants to watch a five match test series between the two. Most of the series have been dull and boring with draws galore. It had a lot to do with the safety first attitude of both teams as there were serious repercussions (bodily harm i mean) going to happen if anyone lost the the series in the 50s, 60s and early 70s (when there was no personal security for the players). So it never reached really lofty heights except that Chennai test in 1999 and Bangalore test in 1987. But it was ODIs that signify the India-Pakistan rivalry. There was always a winner and heroes were made and the public in both countries went nuts with passion. So Ashes is the biggest test series and ODI cricket's defining rivalry is India vs Pakistan. No match in ODI cricket is bigger than India vs Pakistan. It is the ultimate rivalry.

Posted by   on (June 16, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

Amazingly correct ! I am stunned to read this.drowned in the article ,the real picture .I thought as it is Written by me ,in my thoughts ,superb Thanx dear

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 16:58 GMT)

One of the awesome blog for the Game Cricket... Being a Indian I was enjoyed watching Ind v/s Pak be it on Live or Highlights on TV, Live in the stadium or on anyother social media. Its indeed feels great to watch the crowd during the match... "Prayers from crowd in the stadium has more emotions/value than the prayers in Mosque or Temple"... Irrespective of the current political situation b/w 2 countries we (Cricket Lovers) enjoy the contest to its core.....

Man Hats off... Your blog will be read again and again by me :)

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 14:05 GMT)

Wow what an article. Just loved it. Thanks man. Thanks for highlighting all the important things in cricket.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 13:14 GMT)

Loved the article. Enjoyed the being in the moment ambience that the writer emotes. We know you understand culture. We have had Mark Tully and Tom Alter:))

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

a very good and cric loving article...... pak india always entertain i m a supporter of pak team and i know my team is gng througj bad patches but i m not really worried i know my eagles will be back in a shape in a short span of time.. when u see india pak game ,it makes i feel something above cricket ,the emotions , th crowd, the madness th thrill and the beauty of game really drives in a special and unexplainble kind ov feelings.....! i actually want to say that the beauty in cric is bcoz of pak nd india..... thw teams of two great nations origionally belong to same chain of pplz........

Posted by RanjithShettyJordan on (June 15, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

Waiting from last 24 hours you beauty. I miss some big names, but still it is best day in a sports to watch IND Vs PAK.

Posted by sweetspot on (June 15, 2013, 10:09 GMT)

Of course you can get it. Who says you can't? You wrote about everything! For a little bit of an insight, here's something you may not get - India vs. England, Pakistan fans just might cheer for India! Pak vs. Australia, Indians might wish for Pakistan win! India and Pakistan are sometimes like lovers who don't know how to express themselves, and nobody can understand this yet!!!

Posted by agoat86 on (June 15, 2013, 9:53 GMT)

great article Jarrod, I find it hard to relate to the Ind vs Pak rivalry as I'm English and you've eloquently revealed some of the nuances. Totally agree it's a real shame they don't play test matches against each other. Apart from the great cricket, it would be an easy money spinner for the authorities so not sure why this isn't happening. It's also a shame that more Pak players are not playing in the IPL. Not sure why this is, is it the rivalry thing or do the franchises think the Pak players genuinely aren't good enough?

Posted by Oz_Sap on (June 15, 2013, 9:53 GMT)

Awesome by Jarrod! I must say I was quite surprised to read indian and pakistani emotions depicted so accurately by an English - cheerz!

Posted by lokesh.agarwal on (June 15, 2013, 8:56 GMT)

I used to start praying when sachin took the strike, hoping he doesnt get out. I used to start crying when sachin got out and would leave the tv in disgust. Then I used to wipe my tears and become glued as soon as the next guy (jadeja/azhar/siddhu whoever) used to start kicking butt. Then my praying would start again when anwar ans sohail got in the mood to return the favor. India-Pakistan matches invoke such emotions, such excitement it really is hard to describe. As I read this article, there is only one thing I can say.... Welcome to the club buddy! Now you know how it is....

Posted by Digitalbouncer on (June 15, 2013, 8:43 GMT)

I think we should treat the India Pakistan cricket matches as climax of the game. At given day both team can produce the best of their talent. we have seen extra ordinary performances in India Pakistan matches from ordinary players.These matches are the best platform to test the skills,temperament and passions of any player.It's competition (not war) between bat and ball and record shows that its ball (Pakistan) who kisses the wickets at their will...Let's hope to have another exciting game.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

nice article. there is no match without intensity even its just a series or ICC event. its always full of passion. there is no such thing like dead rubber between these two as some people say, it can never be.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 8:22 GMT)

very good match always interesting to watch

Posted by jash389 on (June 15, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

March 30, 2011 I was having my final year exam and India was playing Pakistan in the semi final of the World Cup, I finished my paper about 15 minutes early and ran to catch a train home. It was 1 in the afternoon and train I caught was packed as if it was the evening rush, still no one was fighting on little issues or for a place. Everyone was busy reading the scores or listening to radio, India were batting and Sehwag was taking Umar Gul for cleaners, each boundary he hit made everyone cheer, somehow I reached my station, and I was astonished by the fact that there were no auto on the streets, I boarded a bus and even the conductor and co-passengers were busy discussing the scores. It wasn't just another day, there was no occasion, still it was a uncalled National Holiday, people were more patriotic then they are on 15th August or 26th Jan, emotions were at a level which cannot be described. Mr. Kimber you can just feel the atmosphere but you will never understand the emotions.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

Pakistan will win the match today for sure.

Posted by Aamir_Hussain on (June 15, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

india vs pakistan was, is and will always be better than any cricket match in the world .

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 8:02 GMT)

one of the finest cricketing articles in recent times.

Posted by mg_asim on (June 15, 2013, 7:59 GMT)

who even win I don't care, because it is a game and game have two shadow, one lose and other win. but I must say it would be good contest.

Posted by spinkingKK on (June 15, 2013, 7:50 GMT)

I don't see what is the hype about an India Pakisthan match. I am Indian-born living overseas. So, perhaps it is not a surprise that I don't feel the same as many others. However, the truth is that, even when I was living in India and supporting India on any sport and any game, I never felt any different about when India plays Pakisthan. Maybe in Hockey, when they play each other, I was tensed. But, that was only because the Pakisthanis had a very attacking team and it was more of a fear of getting thrashed by them than anything else. In a cricket match, it was just like any other game. I also felt that India always approached the game like any other game and that is the reason why India seems to do better in those games. It is not war! Pakisthanis had a good team when Imran and co were playing. Now, they are going through some lean time and India seems to have finally found a champion ODI team. They will win this match, I beleive. In any case, a dead rubber is a dead rubber.

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 7:22 GMT)

Pakistan vs India!!!!!!!!The mother of all en-counters////

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 7:15 GMT)

this match is going to be a great feast for all fan, india will will easily win without any hiccup

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

Yes, Jarrod Kimber, The matches between Pakistan & India will be always thrilling... It is not a game... It's a WAR.. Specially the match today is gonna be more interested & crowded than the CT 2013 Finals.. Early wishers for the Pakistani Lions for a BIG WIN today.... eNJOY... (Y)

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 6:44 GMT)

This is as good as it can get for writing about cricket I say ! Never came across such emotions for the game from a person who does not belong to Indian subcontinent. I would say Jarrod gets our cricket culture alright. After-all, he's seen the best of it and was able to paint it quite magnificently. Very well done !!!

Posted by Kak-mal_Khan on (June 15, 2013, 6:31 GMT)

Mate I think you get it - I have been to 2 of these contests myself and once on a working capacity, I don't think I appreciated it as much as I do now after reading your piece - ignore that senior cricket writer, I think he (unlike Carlsberg) probably did not write the best cricket articles in the World!

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

A must read article... Very well put together.....

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 6:01 GMT)

Nice feel-good article, but the reality is that I'd much rather win the tournament than beat Pakistan. I think that if it wasn't for media outlets flogging the so-called India-Pak rivalry to increase their ratings, most Indian fans would view Indo-Pak cricket matches in the same light as matches against any other test country. Can't comment for Pakistani fans- all the Pakistani people I know are completely uninterested in cricket (yes, such people do exist).

Posted by srinideva on (June 15, 2013, 6:00 GMT)

Very emotional one from the author..I was just melted for couple of minutes..Go IND beat the pak..

Posted by Vinaypal on (June 15, 2013, 5:58 GMT)

Kimber has hit the timber right into the middle. Here we go another encounter and all in all a super saturday. I think the perspective have changed. If u go big and aim high u will end of winning the tournament and the by product of it will be definitely a win over PAk. Hope the rain gods don't create any problems.

Posted by zennyzennzen on (June 15, 2013, 5:48 GMT)

Very well written Jarrod Kimber!

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 5:32 GMT)

Please my friends... Do read this article... It sure serves as a perfect apetizer for the big match...

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

Grate article Mr.Kimber felt like I was part of that game. Every sentence I was reading felt my blood is running in double speed. As Indian fan we were disappointed many times in Sarjaha just cause Azahar (he is still my favorite cricketer after Tendya) or Pakistan was stronger at one point . It's payback time. While the match on we will have BBM fight with good friend Hanif. Can't wait to see a game n can't sleep too. Cancelled all meetings for tomorrow till match overs. It's not a game for us it's THE everything.

Posted by hypocrite on (June 15, 2013, 5:15 GMT)

Couldn't put it any better! Well done Jarrod. I'm too nervous for this match! As an Indian, I can tell you something. We may even go on to win this Champions trophy. But losing to Pakistan is unacceptable! It gives them the bragging rights until the next clash we play. We don't want CT, we want this match!

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 5:11 GMT)

I would prefer India beating Pakistan and getting knocked out in group stages to losing to Pakistan and winning the Champions' Trophy. This is the match I am watching Champions' Trophy for... once this is over, I don't really care who wins the rest of the tournament.

Posted by dcharan2002 on (June 15, 2013, 5:04 GMT)

Now, thats one heck of an article. Perfect start to an Ind V Pak match day!

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

hahahahahahaha nice article from the perspective of an english person ;p.... but others truly cannot feel what the people of these two countries feel when there is a match between Pakistan and india

Posted by sak00n on (June 15, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

its article like cherry on the cake... :-)

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 4:26 GMT)

Please read this article. A perfect appetizer before main course to be served at 3.30 PM

Posted by   on (June 15, 2013, 3:48 GMT)

yes jarrod rightly Saïd ... india vs Pakistan is a most incredible contest , i wouldn't say it is greater than the Ashes.... i love both the contests because they are different contests, but i dont find any interest If there is any test series between India vs Pakistan , this rivalry is interesting in ODI.... just like Ashes for test cricket....

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