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Playing cricket after the massacre
Should Pakistan have played cricket after the horrific school massacre at Peshawar that sent a nation into shock and grief and mourning? That is a question that will be discussed for some time and there will be countless who will remain adamant that it should not have been played.
However, the PCB could not have given a more ludicrous reason for going ahead by saying that it could not postpone the ODI due to broadcast commitments! A more heartless and selfish reason could not have been given and shows a complete lack of diplomatic communiqué skills from the Gaddafi Stadium. And how come this has been given in an impersonal press release. This was a time when no one less than PCB chairman should have publicly come forward personally and given a personal statement as did the CEO of ACB when the first Test was announced as postponed after the death of Phil Hughes.
It showed a severe absence of emotional intelligence, leave alone normal intelligence by those at the helm of PCB and Chairman Shaharyar Khan has to take responsibility. For out of this clearly tortuous mindset came the next statement that appeared in PCB’s press release as quoted online by Dawn.com: “We tried our best to postpone the 4th ODI but were constrained by the broadcasters commitment as well as for cricketing reasons advised by the New Zealand management.”
Constrained? 132 children are butchered and PCB says that they were constrained by private enterprise? And are we to believe that the New Zealanders are heartless people who care little about such a horrendous episode and want to have their cricket game, or the opportunity to equal the series? I refuse to believe that. And would the PCB please elaborate on what were the reasons advised by the Kiwis.
So the broadcasters, who are not from Pakistan, can be so cold-blooded as to demand that their coffers be filled. I refuse to believe that also. These are people who just a couple of weeks back announced that they couldn’t cover the game because a cricketer had died back home. A whole day’s play was called off and taken forward.
And if what the PCB says is true then if I were the chairman I would have written them the cheque and called off the matches. If New Zealand doesn’t want to play us in future because of our refusal, then so be it. How can anyone play cricket after what happened?
The Shaharyar Khan-led PCB then gave some convoluted logic that “We are playing outside Pakistan only because of the threat of terrorism at home. If we allow terrorists to disrupt our matches abroad, then all will be lost.”
I’ll tell you what is already lost; our self respect in front of the comity of nations, at least ICC members who see us as insensitive people who are just interested in money and who bow down to broadcasters and another country that wants to play cricket.
And what of the players? Analogy, if you can call it that, will be drawn with the death of Philip Hughes that led to postponement of the second day of the second Test between Pakistan and New Zealand. If the players could not get themselves in the right frame of mind to play cricket after an Australian batsman had died tragically after being hit by a bouncer in the peaceful setting of the SCG, and with no ill intent, how could they possibly bat and bowl with vim and vigour and celebrate successes on the day after one of the world’s most horrifying episodes?
It was a massacre that took our breaths away; innocent children going about their daily routines of creativity, examination and making or sharing plans for the day with friends. It was a day bloodied that made a nation livid, feel numb and lose all sense of dimension all at the same time. You dropped whatever it is you were doing. And we played cricket the next day?
A further insult to the dead and the grieving was added when the PCB, perhaps in a bid to rationalize their decision and win support, announced that they would donate the earnings from the 4th ODI to the families of the dead. This is preposterous. This is not a natural calamity. This is traumatic killing. They don’t need money; these children were not bread earners of the family and the adults were employees of an institution who will look after them as will the state.
By saying that they were “constrained” has once again revealed that PCB cannot stand up to anyone or any institution. If they could not postpone or cancel an ODI of a ‘home series’ after Pakistan’s PM (and PCB’s patron) announces a three-day mourning, we should hang our heads in shame.
Published in Dawn December 18th , 2014