Postmortem reveals a flawed national psyche

Published February 24, 2015
To expect 11 lads to improve the quality of life of a nation when all the institutions of the state have failed is unfair. —AFP
To expect 11 lads to improve the quality of life of a nation when all the institutions of the state have failed is unfair. —AFP

The outpouring of anger and the scorn being heaped on the Pakistan cricket team and the establishment following the loss in the first two games of the World Cup is a classic case of barking up the wrong tree.

Things are getting so irrational that the Lahore High Court has admitted a petition seeking an inquiry into the poor performance of the team. No less than the Prime Minister of Pakistan has been named as one of the respondents. One would have thought that the august court had more useful pursuits than taking up such a frivolous case.

In addition to the vicious criticism, there are medicines being prescribed by both experts and quacks alike.

None of these cures will work because the problem is much more fundamental and solutions like changing the batting order or sacking the PCB chairman will not make the performance of the team any better. Summoning chief selector Moin Khan back from Australia for 'visiting a casino' would not change much either.

Of course, if the team wins the next game, all the pundits will claim that it was their magic formula that revived the team.

Also read: Watch the cricket, block the critic

The poor performance of the cricket team — or the hockey or squash players for that matter — cannot be analysed independently of the problems of the country itself. To expect that Pakistan can do well in sports while it is doing badly in almost all the spheres of life is myopic and unreasonable.

There are some obvious and other not-so obvious correlations between the poor performance on the cricket field and the conditions in the country at large.

The obvious one is the spread of violence and religious extremism that has resulted in the refusal of foreign teams to play on Pakistan’s blood stained soil.

Besides the much needed exposure to playing more foreign teams, it is definitely not a morale booster for the players to see themselves as the pariahs of the sporting world.

Then there is the loss of some of our best players due to their involvement in match fixing for financial gains.

Why should it surprise us that young Mohammed Amir makes a few bucks while all those in power are bleeding the country to death?

Also read: Will Amir's return hurt Pakistan cricket? No.

The point here is to not to justify what the match fixers did but to recognise that unless the deeper malaise of greed and materialism entrenched in the country are tackled, the corruption in sports will not end.

Off the field

A cursory examination of the social indicators of Pakistan clearly establishes that we are doing poorly in all spheres.

Education, health, justice, availability of water and power, and environment all are in a state of decline. The flowing filth that our politics has become has seeped into the offices of every sports organisation, be it the PCB or the Pakistan Hockey Federation.

Also read: Don't have high expectations from Pakistan in World Cup, says Sethi

As for the clamour for chopping off one head and replacing it with another, no one individual can make a difference if a proper system is not in place. Firing Mr X and appointing Mr Y as the chairman of the selection committee will surely fail if the appointment is not the result of a proper system but the whim and fancy of a few.

And no matter whether Younis Khan opens or plays at number three, there is a high probability that we will lose a match if the wicket is fast and bouncy, as we never had the wisdom of making quick wickets in Pakistan or have proper long term coaching programs in place.

Also read: The fault(s) in our 11

As for the state of depression that the loss in the two matches has caused in the country, it is very sad that the people have reached a level of misery that their happiness has become dependent on the victory in a game of cricket.

To expect 11 lads of a cricket team to improve the quality of life of a nation when all the institutions of the state have failed is unfair and idiotic.

For a cricket team to go from heroes with the swing of bat for six runs, to zeros with the death rattle of the stumps is a clear indication that a lot more than the cricket team needs to be fixed in Pakistan.


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