I just remembered why I stopped watching cricket matches; it’s too depressing when Pakistan loses. I actually surprised myself by tuning into the semi-final of the T20 between Pakistan and Australia. For the record, let me state that this was the first T20 match I have ever watched — not the first this season but the first ever. And Pakistan’s fantastic start had me fantasising about a column on how cricket victories lift the spirits of the nation — good thing I didn’t start writing during the match.
Victory seemed so certain that I started surfing the net, Facebooking and generally feeling very superior. That was right before Mr Hussey smashed our hopes for a six. And triggered the dirges on Facebook. A friend congratulated Australia and I snarled at him. I babbled about how the nation needed this win to lift our morale and he pointed out that national morale shouldn’t hinge on small stuff like cricket matches. And he got me thinking beyond my cricket-induced depression.
Why do we invest so much of our spirit, our national pride, nay our very national ethos in our cricket team? Why do we put the entire burden on the shoulders of our 11 cricket players? Surely this responsibility rests on the shoulders of the veteran men and women sitting in parliament. They are the ones who are supposed to give us a sense of national pride. On their shoulders rests the responsibility of lifting this nation out of the miasma that envelopes us on a daily basis. So what really depresses me? For starters, try living in a perpetual state of siege mentality given the terrorism around the country. Add to that routine police brutality, callous medical practitioners and a daily litany of rapes, murders and kidnappings. Sprinkle with spiraling inflation, mix in grinding poverty and leaven with readily available loadshedding. Garnish with fresh cynicism. And there you have it. A perfect recipe for national depression.
Let’s not trash the cricket team, let’s not have parliamentary hearings into the performance of the team. Let’s greet the boys when they come home with a “good effort”. They played a great game and the Aussies just barely nudged us out. It would have been nice to have gone into the final and maybe even won the trophy. But having lost is not a national disaster. What would be a true disaster is an unnecessary clash between the government and the judiciary over the implementation of the NRO verdict. What is a tragedy is how many of our legislators lied about their college degrees to get into the National Assembly.
And even as I write these words, a news report flashes on the television screen that the academic credentials of the cricket team and their earnings have been presented to the National Assembly. Huh? Did I miss something?
Published in the Express Tribune, May 16th, 2010.