The visit of the Zimbabwe cricket team to Pakistan to play a one-day series and T20 matches in Pakistan may prove in the end a precursor for the future tour to come and hopefully it will. It has come after a gap of six years since that tragic terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009.
This visit obviously opens a fresh chapter in Pakistan cricket history and an opportunity for the fans and followers of the game to watch their home grown talent on their own turf and the players a much awaited occasion to play in front of their countrymen.
No praise is enough for the PCB and its officials who worked tirelessly to bring Zimbabwe to Pakistan and just as much appreciation and gratitude for the Zimbabwean cricket authorities and players for taking a brave and generous step to accept Pakistan’s invitation to play here against heavy odds.
Not many, however, are aware that at the same time yet another cricket team has been touring Pakistan since the last ten days, playing their matches, of all the places, in the scenic Chitral valley.
The team led by prominent British journalist Peter Oborne, who wrote Pakistan’s cricket history recently, played eight matches here and ended their tour on Thursday without any untoward incident. They now leave the valley with nothing other than praise and appreciation for the way their tour was organised and managed by the the state’s Prince Siraju-ul-Mulk.
The first of its kind, this tour of club cricketers of London not only unearthed the hidden talent in Chitral region but also provided opportunities for the local cricketers to play against a foreign team.
The matches at The Langland School and College, Chitral XI, Kailash XI, Drosh XI, Ayun Valley XI, Booni XI and Mastuj XI were eye openers for those who had never witnessed a foreign team playing cricket in these beautiful surroundings.
The reception accorded to the tourists by the school children here as well as their opponents was seen to be believed. In my experience of travelling the world with international teams I never have had such experience of a team being greeted with such enthusiasm and fervour as these club cricketers from England.
The Chitral Scouts, The Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) led by its engineer Khadimullah and another royal family member of Chitral Prince Masood-ul-Mulk were all in support of Peter Oborne’s venture in the valleys to revive the game in Pakistan.
What really amazed me was the fact that talent in this part of the world is no less than any other cities of Pakistan. Only if attention of the PCB is diverted in this direction there will be much more to be explored for Pakistan cricket.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2015