While taking a walk across the stands of the once-mighty National Stadium of Karachi (NSK), one can only reminisce the glorious past of one of Pakistan cricket’s crown jewels. Looking at its current state; the broken chairs, the holes in the stairs, the falling roofs, the sad reality of the state of Pakistan cricket hits you in the face.
What once was a formidable ground to play in, a cauldron of noise, has become nothing less than a silent, deserted ruin.
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The attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 did more damage than the eyes could see. It not only took away cricket, the love and life of many, from our country, it took away the soul of more than 20 million cricket fans.
You can still hear the voices of thousands of fans cheering the team, the uncontrollable jubilation when an opposition wicket fell, or the unified sound of disappointment when someone failed to connect with the bat, or fell early when the crowd had expected them to stay.
Simply put, the stadium was alive.
The once-mighty fortress where Pakistan won 22 out of 42 Test and only lost twice — vs England, December 2000–01, and South Africa, October 2007-08 — now is just a structure of concrete, silently fading with the winds that blow through its stands and the sunshine that peeks through the roof.
This is the same place where West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards smashed his spectacular 181-run innings against Sri Lanka at the 1987 World Cup and where Mohammad Yousuf etched his name in history by breaking Viv Richards’ record for the most runs in calendar year in 2006.
This is the same place that Younus Khan made 313 against Sri Lanka in 2009 to record the highest individual Test innings by any batsman in the stadium’s 60-year history.
This is the place where legends were once made.
To see it in such a state where the management finds it difficult to even pay the electricity and water bills and keep the grass kempt is just heartbreaking. The fact that not even one person wants to visit this historic site makes it even harder to accept.
The management could certainly do better.
While it is understandable that international cricket is not being staged in Pakistan and the stadium does not have its primary use, it still holds immense historic importance and should not be scraped aside to let dust find its way into every nook and corner.
Is it not possible for the management to invest more in establishing/renovating the museum to include archives of legendary matches that took place in the stadium? Is it not possible to let schools schedule field trips to let children peek into the stadium’s glorious past?
It really doesn’t matter whether thousands are now attracted to the stadium. It really doesn’t matter whether matches take place there. The only thing that matters is that the NSK is part of our history, a measure of our glorious past, and more efforts should be undertaken to preserve that history than what are currently being made.
Saving this historic stadium is in the hand of the citizens of Karachi who can increase their visits — which is currently less than one per cent of it total capacity of 34,228 — in domestic events that will force the management to maintain it for the visitors.
With each passing year the condition will deteriorate further and it would be a terrible disappointment if one day we tell our children that this ruin you see was one of the best stadiums in the world.
May God save it from that fate.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2016.
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