Scanning over the international cricket half a century ago one finds that the test matches between England and Australia used to be the most sensational contest to spell bound the cricket lovers all over the world. The two countries considered as arch rivals, the cricket fans anxiously waited for the test series between them. India and Pakistan also called the arch rivals, the start of regular cricket series between them created a similar atmosphere snatching a part of enchantment from the England-Australia series. The enthusiasm, however, lasted for a few years after which a slump in the series occurred perhaps for political reasons.

When I took over as Secretary (Chief Executive) of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) way back in 1978 there had been a 16 years long cricket break between India and Pakistan. Realising that cricket in Asia could not prosper without the two giants India and Pakistan playing against each other, we approached the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to revive the series who heartily agreed. As a result the Indian cricket team led by Bishen Singh Bedi visited Pakistan. In return the Pakistan team with Asif Iqbal as captain toured India. After a long break the resumption of cricket series established a strong relationship between the two countries. The matches attracted massive crowds to fill the stadiums to the brim. The public interest rose to such a high pitch in these matches that the ‘gate money’ earned by the cricket boards of the two countries was far above their imagination.     

This was followed by an era which gave a lot of boost up to One-day matches and a new brand of the game called the Twenty20 cricket. Apart from this, the staging of World Cup Championships in Asia and the introduction of Asia Cup enhanced considerably the number of contests between India and Pakistan raising the craze and exuberance of cricket lovers in the region. The sportsmen having no control over political affairs, the slump in cricket activity started occurring from time to time giving rise to the present break up which took place in the year 2008.

Having an Indo-Pak series in mind for the first half of 2012, he discussed the issue with officials representing the Indian Cricket Board during the Asian Cricket Council meeting held recently in Singapore but received a ‘cold response’. The Chairman PCB was told that ‘the Indian government was not yet permitting to play against Pakistan’. Such a long break in the cricket ties between the top Asian teams is also badly damaging the whole of Asia’s cricket scenario. The refusal does not only belie Pakistan’s spirit of granting India the status of ‘Most Favourite Nation’ it is also deadly against the theme of highly propagated’ Amn ki Asha’.

RAFI NASIM,

Lahore, December 20.