There are more than 100 Cricket playing nations registered with ICC, the International Cricket Council. Yet, when you talk about Cricket, the first thing which comes in the mind of many people is the insect or a weird American drink. England and Wales are hosting the 12th Cricket World Cup and its a big deal for the fans. Here’s how why you should care too…
The mother of all games
Do you know what is the most watched sporting event in TV history? Difficult to say but what we know for sure is that when the two archrivals India and Pakistan met in the Cricket World cup game in 2015 — more than a billion people tuned in. Imagine! That’s one-sixth of humanity! Cricket has been used for diplomacy, and for a political tool between the two countries as well when political tensions climb.
This Sunday, India and Pakistan meet again at Manchester and estimates suggest 1.5 billion people will tune in.
Does it get bigger than that?
From the refugee crisis to the World Cup
Remember Afghanistan? You might do… from the Taliban, war, death and destruction. The country has been in a state of war for more than three decades now resulting in the biggest refugee crisis in modern history. Neighbouring Pakistan has hosted between two and four million Afghans through the last few decades.
This year, Afghanistan made it to the Cricket World Cup among 10 other countries. This is not by any grace points but after a competitive qualifying round where they beat many of seasoned teams. Imagine being forced to leave your house and move into an alien country, and rising through that to shine at the world stage!
Half of the Afghan National Cricket team is actually made up of young Afghans who were born in Pakistan in refugee camps. Does it get any beautiful than this?
It's not just a sport — it's next to a religion!
In South Asia, Cricket is nothing short of a religion. Countries struggling with ethnic, religious or class divides, unite as a nation through Cricket. In the year 2009, the visiting Sri Lanka Cricket team was subject of a terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan which shook the Cricket-mad nation. International Cricket didn’t return back to Lahore for years. The authorities used to lit up the city’s main Cricket Stadium the same day every year as a symbolic gesture of hope — with no Cricket to see but the city’s skyline giving a reminder of days gone by, and to come.
When Cricket did return back to Lahore, this is what happened:
Citizens giving an in-you-face message to terrorists, for the love of Cricket! The city of 12 million was choked. The stadium with a capacity of 25,000 had more people queued up outside.
Ahsan Raza officiated that game as an umpire. Who is he? He was shot twice when terrorists opened fire on Sri Lankan team in 2009 … 7 years later; fully recovered, fought back and on the field again. Beautiful symbolism. An amazing win for the game!
England might actually win on their own game!
The English invented the Cricket… and they took it literally everywhere the Empire went. From the Carribean to Americas, Australia to South Africa, India and Pakistan to Zimbabwe. The colonialists use Cricket as a tool of ‘civilisation and development’.
However, the natives actually got better than the inventors at the game… and started seeing this as a tool they could use to prove to the colonialists that they are not inferior. Beating them at their own game had a much deeper political meaning for the people of these colonies.
England has never been able to win a world cup so far. This time though, they have a real chance. England is tipped as the favourites to win this one and so far have done really well.
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