Angikaar C | 10:19am gmt 10 Aug 2012
Cricket fans all crowding around a small TV just to know the latest score during an India/Pakistan match.
I'll start off this piece by giving a link to the piece I wrote, just before the India-Pak semifinal at the 2011 World Cup last year. I think that more than anything captures and expresses the kind of hysteria that ran through both the countries last year.
So as you can see, when India and Pakistan clash, its intense. Pretty intense. And hence, the news of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) agreeing to a proposal by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to play a bilateral series in December, was music to most cricket fans in the subcontinent. To most, though. Quite a few former players, including Indian great Sunil Gavaskar and Kirti Azad have come out strongly against this decision by the BCCI. Most of those who are against the series have two specific bones of contention:
1) This series comes right in the middle of England's winter tour to India and hence will only tire out the Indian cricketers.
2) A strictly political reason :a lot of Indians believe Pakistan has still not cooperated fully on brining the perpetrators of the ghastly 26/11 attack on Mumbai, to justice.
For followers of the old adage: politics and sports should be kept separate; there might be qualms of indignation. After all, why would you let issues like terrorism, security, safety enter the cricket field? Unfortunately, it is not as simplistic as that.
India and Pakistan are two countries who have so much history that when they clash, much of it boils down on any sporting arena. It is just not possible for the countries to treat a clash with each other as just a mundane sporting event. The tension is too palpable.
It arises due to a complex history. The partition of India is probably the source, but the wars over Kashmir have also led to the animosity. I will not delve too much into the politics and intricacies. It is too easy to point fingers and believe the other country is responsible. Despite all the history, cricket has however helped to thaw relations, at times. Between 2001 and 2008, India and Pakistan toured each other quite a few times, helping to tone down the intensity of the clash.
Unfortunately, the 2008 Mumbai attacks led to a further breakdown of ties. And even four years later, that remains the main stumbling block to the series going forward. A lot of Indian right-wing political parties do not believe India should cooperate with Pakistan in any way, till Pakistan takes appropriate steps in tackling terrorism, especially the perpetrators of the attack. They have warned to oppose any such resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties, thus farther casting a cloud on the series.
To be very honest, there is no easy solution. In the end, the issue is not simply a sporting one, it is political. And as we know, there are no easy answers in politics. There is the question of sentiment as well. Sentiments are still very high.
In the midst of all this, spare a thought for the players. They cannot complain about the pressure on them, because quite frankly, they will be branded as 'cowards', by the notorious subcontinental media. On the other hand, this unbearable pressure to perform seems too much. There have been instances of the house of cricket players being stoned, in the event of a bad performance. Would anyone honestly want to play in these kind of pressure? In the end, these are just cricket players, not soldiers or diplomats.
For the viewers, it will be a pulsating experience, if it happens. But for the players? They'll probably just want to get over with it as quickly as possible.