More than a game of cricket

More than a game of cricket

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

 

Last week, a sporting event drew the attention of more than a billion and a half people across the globe. It was not just a sporting event. It was a war in the trenches, fought between two decades-long adversaries, each trying to pummel the other into silence and submission. It was a battle that drew comparison with the biblical narrative of David versus Goliath, as one team was unquestionably the stronger one by far, a juggernaut of stars, and expected to walk away with the honors.

The other team sprung from a disjointed malarkey of events and held together by very fragile strings. This was a team who had been fragmented by events of bombings, match fixing, infighting and lack of discipline among their players, disallowed from holding international events on their own soil, and retirements of their senior players.

This team represented the country of Pakistan, a country that has been unfairly maligned as the source of so many evils. It is also a country where political stability often rolls with the status of the monsoon rains, as each political party tries to usher in their influence as the winds change. It is a country wrongly accused of harboring terrorism when Pakistan itself is one of the greatest victims of terrorism of recent times. It is a country where many expect its back and will to survive has been broken and left defeated. And yet, all is not what it seems.

This team was in the finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy of cricket, and their adversary was India, a country they have had acute political difference with ever since partition almost 70 years ago. Those differences translate into a battle of will and bragging rights for an entire nation when their team emerges the victor, and India was a shoo in for the coveted trophy. But that was not to be. The resilient Pakistanis displayed to the world why they are the most mercurial team on the plant and administered a walloping blow to the Indians, from which many of their fans have yet to recover.

Following that occasion, Mohamed Zakaria, a Pakistani executive in the Kingdom shared with me his thoughts on the game. He says: “I thought and thought why a cricket match win made this nation so happy and I got the answer. A gangster threatened a person by confining him inside a one-yard circle that he forced his victim to draw on the road right in front of his house and ordered him to stand in the circle while he went on a date with the victim’s wife.

“The gangster returned a few hours later after dating his wife and found his victim standing in the circle. He asked in front of the crowd, ‘did you step out of this circle while I was having good time with your wife’ and the victim said no. The gangster slapped him hard and left. The neighbors then moved close to the victim and sympathized with him on his helplessness.

“The victim snapped and said, this gangster thinks himself brave and clever but in fact he is an idiot. How, the crowd asked! I stepped out of this ring twice, once my right foot and once my left and he didn't or couldn't find out. Losing his wife's dignity wasn't important, what was important was any win, anywhere to satisfy one's ego.

“We lost almost everything (still losing) to Americans, Indian, Arabs and even to tiny countries like Afghanistan and Bangladesh. We have been on a losing streak since we switched to communism/socialism from capitalism, that made this world's fifth largest nation, hungry for any sign of survival, any win, simply because we ignored, accepted, adjusted and settled with every defeat that was slapped in our face.

“We shouldn't have accepted the first defeat and should have done whatever it took to reverse or undo it and prevent more failures and defeats but unfortunately we didn't and here we stand today.

“I swear on all holy books, we are still far better than the Indian sub-continent, Africa and Middle East in every aspect of life. We are God-gifted and enriched with massive potential but need to focus and discipline it. No Niagara could produce any electricity unless it is tunneled.

“We must protect and retain at any cost, what still remains with us; we should swear that whatever happens, we shouldn't surrender or lose anything that belongs to this country and nation. We must focus on work only. Only hard work will make us a nation that we all aspire to be. Collective hard work by the entire nation will offset every corruption and theft by a few, and we have examples of Korea etc. — Mohamed Zakaria.”

Zakaria was one Pakistani inspired by the actions of eleven men on a cricket field to understand that Pakistanis, no matter what the odds may be, can draw out the will to overcome. But as he rightly says, that will should be channeled into a collective national stream and consciousness to make their nation better.

 

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena