BRINGING NATIONS ON POINT OF CONVERGENCE
SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Feb 21 - 27, 2011
The 2011 International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup is the tenth Cricket World Cup being hosted by three South Asian test cricket playing countries: Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Bangladesh is co-hosting the World Cup for the first time. The World Cup will use cricket's One Day International (ODI) format, with fourteen national cricket teams scheduled to compete. The matches will be played between February and early April 2011, with the first match to be played on 19th February between co-hosts India and Bangladesh facing off at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka. The final will be played on 2nd April at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
The World Cup was also supposed to be co-hosted by Pakistan, but in the wake of the 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team in Lahore, ICC decided to strip Pakistan of its hosting rights. The headquarters of the organizing committee originally situated in Lahore have been shifted to Mumbai. Pakistan was supposed to hold 14 matches, including one semi-final. Eight of Pakistan's matches have been awarded to India, four to Sri Lanka and two to Bangladesh.
It is estimated that the PCB will lose $10.5 million due to the tournament being taken away from Pakistan. This figure only includes the match-fee of $750,000 per match guaranteed by the ICC. The overall loss to the PCB and the Pakistani economy is expected to be much greater.
Cricket is a sport that is loved by all. Because of its thrilling nature, people love to watch cricket matches with friends and family and enjoy to the fullest and get people from all countries together. The support for respective teams is so strong that if that team wins, celebrations can be seen in every corner of the world. Age is no bar when it comes to playing or watching the game. At times students don't mind missing studies for a cricket match. Old people get together at a stadium or at home to watch their favorite teams. A family sitting at home enjoying the cricket match is a scene that everyone identifies with. Often cricket acts as a thread that weaves nations together and spreads better understanding.
In Pakistan and India, often considered rivals, enthusiasts have entirely different feelings. Lately introduction of T20 has added to the excitement. Likewise, nations that popularized cricket follow the game religiously. Australia, England, South Africa, India - all these nations know what the joy of winning a cricket match is and what makes it more valuable is the spectators, even watching the match on televisions.
People enjoy watching cricket and exciting moments often make people bite their nails.
Though countries like Australia, England and South Africa have a long list of professional cricketers and are actively involved in talent hunt and to mould them into fabulous players since childhood, Pakistan has a different cricketing culture. In Pakistan, playing cricket on streets is common.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the opening ceremony at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka. The ceremony featured a wide variety of innovative offerings ranging from laser and holographic shows to massive coordinated fireworks. The welcome song, which begins with'O Prithibi, Ebar ashey Banglake naw chiney (Hey the world, now is the time to know about Bangladesh), depicted the country's history.
The psyche of a nation grows out of its sports and culture. A nation feels proud only when it can hold its national prestige high before the world as a united nation. Sadly, Pakistan lost the chance to host the event on the fears of attacks on teams by some extremist groups. The political leadership, using the national passion for the cricket can unite the people. Nelson Mandela has shown the way how national unity can be forged through sports.
Mandela in his first term as the South African President initiated a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land, enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Mandela realized that his nation would remain racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he could bring his people together through the universal language of sport, he rallied South Africa's rugby team created the history.
Cricket also brings change that could be recollected from what happened between India and Pakistan after the resumption of cricketing. Hostilities between the two countries declined to a large extent. Pervez Musharraf and Manmohan Singh, then President of Pakistan and Prime Minister of India respectively, had little in common when they met at a match between their countries in 2005. But, a small amount of common ground was enough and the cricket was followed by a publicly expressed desire for peace. Events since, though, have pushed that moment of goodwill into the background; a shared love for the sport still survives.