For Nauman Saeed, Pakistan cricket’s demise took place when they failed to move beyond the group stages of the 2003 World Cup. The London-born student does not stand alone, there is a gradual yet growing disenchantment among a section of the British- Pakistanis.
“I have stopped following Pakistan cricket since Wasim (Akram) and Waqar (Younis) retired. The 2003 World Cup (in South Africa) is what I think of when I discuss Pakistan cricket with friends. It’s been a free fall since then,” said Nauman. “I’ve grown up in Britain, so I don’t consider myself a Pakistani. My father supports Pakistan, sometimes I have to follow him, but I am an England supporter, been so since 2003,” he added.
Nauman gave an insight into how British-Pakistanis were switching allegiance to their country of residence. “We have our own small representation in English cricket – Usmaan Afzaal, Owais Shah and now Adil Rashid. We’re happy to support our community than our country of origin,” he said.
An IT engineer who follows Pakistan cricket closely, Abrar Hasnain is another fan whose disillusionment with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is telling. “First, they let something like Lahore happen, then they try and justify their claims to host the World Cup? How silly is that? I am a passionate Pakistani cricket fan, but to be honest, I knew the current administration will goof up seriously,” he said.
Abrar felt the move to shift the World Cup from Pakistan was justified and that the PCB had isolated itself. “This isolation bit that they’re saying does not make sense to me. The reality is that they isolated themselves. Why should other teams go to Pakistan when we hesitate going to our villages ourselves? It’s a war zone now.”
Amidst the overwhelming gloom, there are some optimistic fans. Dania Maqsood, a fashion designer, is one. “Having supported Pakistan since a kid, I never thought I’d see these days. It was hard to imagine, but I am hoping things will improve. Pakistan needs support now, not isolation.” Abrar felt Pakistan cricket was in dire need of answers. “Some of the decisions taken by the PCB must be revisited. Instead of making big claims about isolation, they must work at the grassroots. If Pakistan are not going to be proactive, the day won’t be far when they fail to beat Afghanistan.”
Agreeing with Abrar, Nauman said: “The day Pakistan cricket goes professional and gets rid of these age old systems, it would have made a start. The current administration is not well suited to take cricket forward. They need change there too. Maybe, an Imran Khan.”