The Impact of Cricket on Pakistan; after winning the Champions Trophy

Pakistan celebrate winning the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy
©Reuters
 

The first game of cricket ever played in Pakistan was in 1935 between the Sindh and Australian cricket teams and lit a fuse which is burning to this day. As soon as they acquired independence, cricket developed rapidly and they acquired Test Match status in just 5 years (albeit with the recommendation of their eternal rivals, India). From there they went on to start setting records, having the first occurrence in test history where all five matches in a series were a draw in 1955.

Cricket soon became the national sport and the Pakistani team developed a reputation as a strong but unpredictable side. They really rose to fame in the 1986 Austral-Asia cup with a performance straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. India were their opponents in the match and the team went in expecting to lose, they just hoped they would do so with dignity. At the last inning, with the final ball thrown, they managed to sneak the win thanks to Javed Miandad unexpectedly hitting a six. Winning the cup here, and against their rivals India, was an amazing feat and Miandad became a national hero in Pakistan. There’d be two more Austral-Asia cup contests, both won by Pakistan, but nothing has ever really come close to that first win against India.

Their next big break came in 1992 when Pakistan won the world cup and, much like the 1986 Austral-Asia cup, the result was a surprise. In the semi-final against New Zealand a formerly unknown batsman, Inzamam-ul-Haq exploded onto the international scene. Inazamam-ul-Haq went on to be the first captain of the Pakistan International Twenty20 team and his performance of played won one won would have made plenty of money for the punters who put some International Twenty20 bets down on him.

Sadly, things haven’t been so rosy in recent years. In 2007, they lost to Ireland in a surprise upset and the very next day their coach Bob Woolmer was found dead, believed murdered, and the crime still hasn’t been sold. As if that wasn’t bad enough, in 2009 the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team had their bus attacked by terrorists with six members of the team injured and six Pakistani policemen killed. This sent a message to the world that Pakistan wasn’t safe and, despite the efforts of a few countries (including Sri Lanka), Pakistan lost World Cup hosting status and foreign teams stopped playing games in Pakistan. While their performance stayed strong, the lack of home games was a loss to the country.

For the last few years Pakistan’s cricket has been played abroad but after this win, it’s hoped that the national interest will be revived and that international play will return to the country. In the words of Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s coach. “I’m sure that the nation of Pakistan is really happy tonight – they deserve it. You talk about our players not playing at home but also the fans not identifying with heroes because they just don’t see international cricket. That’s massive. So let’s hope that this really kick-starts that momentum in Pakistan again.”

 

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