Are crickets greatest travesty. Neighboring enemies India and Pakistan, the best rivalry in the sport, don’t compete due to political differences.
Matches between India and Pakistan have unfortunately been limited to official International Cricket Council (ICC) events since the last bilateral series between the bitter rivals eight years ago. The drought is even longer for Tests crickets the longest and most prestigious size, with the sides last playing over 13 years ago.
On the rare occasion that they are on the field, the cricket world and certainly both hugely populated countries come to a halt and evoke a whirl of anticipation and excitement that is probably unmatched in all sports.
More than a match for countries that are constantly at odds, matches between India and Pakistan have earned the three highest ratings in the cricket history of India’s home win over Sri Lanka at the 2011 World Cup.
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A recent report in Pakistani newspaper Jang quoted an official from the Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB) as saying that a short T20 series might be staged in the UAE’s neutral venue before the T20 World Cup in India.
A PCB official said that while there has been no direct discussion with anyone from India, there are indications and we have been told we should be ready for such a series, the report said.
Officials on both sides have not corroborated the report, but it has sparked a slight optimism in the never-ending sad saga of crickets. Due to a determined government stance, India is not playing against Pakistan in bilateral series robbing the circuit board of the financial premium boards obtained by playing crickets superpower.
Cricket between Pakistan and India is very important. Sport should be kept away from politics. Cricket could improve relations between the two countries, “said the great Pakistani Shahid Afridi.
Proof of the enormous popularity of the bat and ball sport in Pakistan, which rivals its neighbor, is that the PCB has impressively managed to remain fiscally sound, unlike many other cricket countries. Still, series in India and Pakistan would work wonders for the treasury and guarantee the new World Test Championship (WTC), which is hard to take seriously if these teams can’t compete against each other, is legitimized.
The current format was skewed and lengthy and there was no point in not having series in India and Pakistan. Teams didn’t play the same number of games and even the points system was weird. There should have been a three-month window and everyone should have been playing against each other, said former Pakistani captain and famed commentator Ramiz Raja.
The next time the WTC is held, no cricket should be held at that time if you want to promote and breathe life into Test cricket and also attract sponsors for this format. Sponsorship only comes when you don’t give sponsors another option to park their money, he added.
Direct-firing PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani, who was the ICC President from 2003-2006, has previously told me that political disagreements should be set aside.
Sports should not be used for political purposes, he said. It’s dangerous when that happens. When I was at the ICC the situation was not much different, but the teams were still playing against each other.
Cricket may still be invisible in many parts of the world, but it’s worth noting that India and Pakistan make up about 20% of the world’s population. And cricket is almost a religion in those countries, making matches rare opportunities for diplomacy in the midst of a volatile part of the world.
Right now cricket is the poorer one without its showpiece, but hopefully its bickering neighbors can put the differences aside and re-launch a match that transcends the sport.
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