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Tour to change Pak cricket

Now that the team is leaving shortly, and the security issue has been debated to death, the focus shifts to cricket.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2004 12:15 IST

Now that the team is leaving shortly, and the security issue has been debated to death, the focus shifts to cricket. But till the first ball is bowled in Karachi, speculation (atkalbaazi) grabs our interest.

Kya hoga, everyone asks. But nobody has a clue.

There is, for instance, enormous interest in the money generated by the series, the lottery that awaits the PCB. Various figures are being tossed around, though past experience suggests these are no better than wild kite-flying.

What is true, but often ignored, is that while Pakistan makes money from the tour, India gets nothing. Zero. Under the ICC guidelines, the host country collects, the visitors only get warm hospitality. Of course, the money Pakistan makes will have an impact on its cricket and will change it for all time to come. In the last decade or so, while other countries adjusted to spurting commercial realities, Pakistan somehow lagged behind and by remaining unconnected, missed the benefits that connectivity provides. In this context, India's tour, besides being a huge paycheck, is an opportunity to integrate with the dynamics of modern, commercial sport.

Already, unprecedented exposure is assured as live cricket images will beam worldwide. This translates into mileage, publicity, tourism interest and other linkages that benefit hotel, travel and hospitality-related industries. Media interest is so high that every minor detail (from Sachin's room service order in Holiday Inn, Multan to Shoaib Akhtar's spike size) will be highlighted and prominently splashed. From March to mid-April, everything else, in India and Pakistan, will fight cricket for space --- and lose.

Money apart, the tour is a chance to permanently change the face of Pakistan cricket, to become modern by using the positive energy released.

Most Test-playing nations have shifted from skill-based to science-based cricket because modern sport depends on inputs made available by experts. Be it the nutritionist/psychologist/trainer/computer analyst or the biomechanic guru.

This tour is a chance to catch up, to push through a development agenda that triggers cultural change and transforms the way cricket is played and administered.

Already Pakistan has made impressive strides through its state of the art Cricket Academy in Lahore and an infrastructure improvement programme, of which the Multan is a result.