10 Years & No Cricket – How Do You make a Childhood Memory & 5 Reasons WHY you need to go watch Pak vs SL in your city!
It has been 10 years since an International team has toured Pakistan. That means that a generation of some 10 – 15-year-olds have NEVER watched a match live on their home ground!
How will my children live to tell their children what it was like to be in the stadium when Pakistan plays to a packed crowd? How will Hassan Ali or Babar Azam live through a cricketing career without ever playing to a home crowd? “Oh, we were TOP players in the Pakistan Cricket Team, but we never played in Pakistan!” Is this what they will say to their grandchildren?
A childhood memory that I treasure greatly is the first Cricket match I ever watched live, at the stadium, when I was roughly 12 years old I think, maybe 13.
Wait a minute, is that going to be caught JUST inside the boundary line? Yes … No … he fumbles with the ball…yes he’s got it but … did he go over the ropes? Waiting for the umpires to take this one! … And the spectators are waiting, on the edge of their seats … WHAT WILL IT BE?Watching a Cricket match LIVE on the ground is an ‘unmatchable’ experience!
I went along with my siblings. We were not allowed to go alone, until a friend’s elder sister accompanied us as a chaperone. It is perhaps the ONE priceless childhood memory I live to tell my boys – all 3 of them, and my husband too. Because, it was the one day I anticipated endlessly, and one that I look back on with the fondest memories. Funny thing is, I can’t recall whether we won or lost. The magic was in the atmosphere. And what an atmosphere it was!
My mother packed sandwiches for all of us, 3 sisters and 5 accompanying friends. We set off early morning because we knew our cars had to be parked way off-course, and the rest of the walk to the National stadium had to be covered on foot, braving the Karachi heat and my Kohlapuri chappals (white sneakers were not trending at the time), so off I went.
Perhaps if you’re a cricket fan, and have grown up watching the game with the same jazba and love that we all share universally, you will understand the intensity of watching the action unfold live – on the field itself. And this is exactly why so many 70’s and (80’s) children are so overjoyed to witness the return of home series on Pakistan’s turf once again, with Pak vs SL 2019! Why is it so important for Pakistan to host home series? It’s not the commercial value, or the international standing (that goes without saying) – it’s the collateral damage that years of no cricket at home can do to the psyche of a nation – especially its youth! Fathom these moments from my memories and you’ll see what I mean!
1. That Moment When Javed Miandad Walked On To The Field.
Pakistan was batting and Miandad would normally go one-down. As he strode on to the field, twirling his bat from side to side, the accompanying applause from the crowd egging him on was thunderous. What do you expect, it was Karachi, and he was Miandad. Yes, it was glorious and he was our man.
Now translate that into an vision of Haris Sohail playing to a packed Pakistani crowd, walking out to bat against Kagiso Rabada of South Africa – the cricket crazy youngsters in our country would trade anything in the world for the experience, and imagine posting real time updates on the alive action. We are opening up a lifetime of entertainment, love and much deserved fanfare for a nation and its cricketing heroes who are deprived of what was always rightfully theirs!
2. The Moment Miandad Was Out First Ball & Walked Back Into The Pavilion!
Yes, I witnessed this tragic, yet rare moment too. The moment I rejoiced over his entry onto the field, he was out first ball, I think clean bowled – (not many get to see the bails flying off the first ball with Miandad) so I have to say, that was an experience in itself. The same crowd that had contributed to the near deafening applause now sat stone-dead in incredulous silence. Was that our man walking back to the dressing room already?
I also got to see him walking back to the dressing room – the utter walk of shame. As we were happily located just in the next enclosure (don’t ask me how) and oh what a temper he was in! Dare I approach him for an autograph? NOOO said my more rational self, and glad I followed the advice. I might have been sent back to the pavilion as well … and not very gracefully! If ever there is a time to NEVER approach your favorite batsman, even though you are the ardent(est) fan, is when he walks off, out on a duck!
Imagine the pain a fan has to go through when his favourite player is out on a duck. Even THAT is an experience we have to live through, to live the highs and lows of a cricket match in a day. This is all part and parcel of being a fan, and spending a day in the cricket stadium along with your team, playing against the odds – win or lose, it’s an experience you don’t forget!
3. Imagine 30K odd spectators sharing that Selfie moment or Tweeting from the Stadium!
The josh, the jazba in the air when when Shaheen Afridi takes a wicket first ball, first over or Babar Azam hits his ODI first century in Pakistan, or Shadab Khan taking an impossible catch! Imagine yong boys and girls catching that – LIVE in the stadium – their favourite sporting heroes performing at home! I would expect Instagram, Facebook, Twitter would be trending a thousand fold – some competition to IK and UNGA2019 there! (If the match hadn’t been a wash out!)
4. The Moment I Got An Autograph From Imran Khan
Yes, it was as incredible as it could be for a 12-year-old cricket-crazy fan who had the chance to stand right NEXT to the king of pace! It was that magical moment when Imran Khan was in his prime, faring well on, and off the field!
Let me tell you Millenials, you have never seen the likes of this! His aura, his charisma, his mere presence wowed me (had me transfixed, really)! And to watch him pace his run up and bowl that ominous swing was a treat like no other! Yes, you can watch him all you want on TV now, but let me tell you, if you haven’t witnessed that iconic run up, you missed some serious cricket.
Now imagine Shaheen Afridi running up to the wicket, bowling to Steve Smith in a stadium full of Pakistani fans watching, cheering him on – applauding every yorker, swing, miss, catch, near catch – and living to tell about it.
Advice to self: watch some old matches to relive the fab memories!
5. The Karachi Crowd!
Have you ever felt the deafening echoes that run through an entire cricket stadium as the crowd taps their empty plastic water bottles against the front seat at the same time when a bowler paces his run-up and runs in to bowl? Have you ever caught the catcalls for Tullay? Every time a poor grey uniformed policeman walked by to temper the crowd from any uncalled-for activities, like, maybe, trying to run on to the field to congratulate a fielder for taking that catch? That rhythmic chant of Tullay Tullay was a warning call to whoever was trying to make it on the field, to be careful, the policemen are around. But the chant was so infectious, we all got caught up with the off-field shenanigans and lost sight of the on-field antics!
Because, in Pakistan, the happenings off the field are as much a treat to watch as those on the field (if not more). You have to have lived it to understand WHY it is so important for us to have matches at home. For the crowd to cheer their favorite players, for the players to feel the love of their home crowd, and most importantly, for our youth to have good, clean fun and watch their heroes in action.
We have taken away the chance for a precious childhood memory. And we must bring them back before it’s too late. Else an entire generation’s cricketing stories will be lost, and people will not even know what it means to see Javed Miandad walking off the field on a duck! Or hitting that six off the last ball to win the match! (Remind me, was that in Sharjah – it could well have been Karachi!). And … more importantly, have you bought your match ticket yet?