Simon Finch plays the trumpet during the Pakistan-England test match on Saturday.
Simon Finch plays the trumpet during the Pakistan-England test match on Saturday.

ISLAMABAD : As the sun started to set and the weather became chillier, Emma Askwith moved to the general stand from the VIP enclosure to mix with Pakistani fans.

“I came to the Yasir Arafat Enclosure for the sun, but what fascinated me more was the receptive attitude of the public here; people of Pakistan are so loving and respectful,” Ms Askwith said.

A resident of London, Emma Askwith is visiting Pakistan for the first time with a group of British cricket enthusiasts who follow their team.

In their group is a musician, Simon Finch, a professional trumpeter, who too was glad to be visiting the country.

“I play the trumpet which even the Pakistani fans enjoy,” Mr Finch, known as Finchi by his group, said.

It is Mr Finch's norm to play at least one local tune, and on Saturday he chose 'Dil Dil Pakistan'.

He follows this practice in other regions as well where the 'Barmy Army' goes to watch the English cricket team. Finchi expressed the hope to be in Pakistan during the 2024 T20 World Cup too.

The Barmy Army is a company that provides tickets and arranges touring parties for some of its members to follow the English cricket team in the UK and overseas. Some of its members will proceed to Multan as well.

“We are the England cricket supporters club and we follow England everywhere,” said Chris Millard. “We want to keep the love for test cricket alive,” he added.

Since the group is in Pakistan for the first time, most of its members expressed their likeness for the local food. Majority were also of the view that it was safe in Pakistan.

Senior officials of the British High Commission acknowledged that the security situation was normal and that it was safe to travel to Pakistan.

“The image problem is because the ghost of the past continues to haunt,” said one of the officials present in the stadium.

Pakistan need to invest in its travel and tourism infrastructure to shed the negative image," the official said.

On the other hand the stadium was almost full to its capacity contrary to previous days.

Not only boys and girls, but families too had come to watch the match.

More than 15,000 fans were in the stadium on Saturday.

It feels so good to be here in the stadium and watch a match live,” said Taha Ali, who was seated in the Javed Akhtar Enclosure. “For years I have watched this stadium from outside,” he added.

Many schools had arranged a trip for their students to the stadium as many children in uniform were seen cheering for their team.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2022

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