Diary of an avid cricket fan

Published: June 25, 2012

You cannot choose to "unfollow" your national team. You cannot ignore it. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

My phone beeped. It was an SMS from a friend who had grown skeptical of the Pakistan Cricket Team since the 1999 World Cup Final debacle.

“So are your chuckers going to win?”

It was the eve of the 2009 T20 World Cup final. And even though he knew that the response he would get would be oozing with positive energy, hope and an incomprehensible delight for one of the most unpredictable sports team in all sports throughout history, he still wanted to know.

You see, after a long time this team was showing some spine. It was regenerating interest in the skeptics who had turned away. Please understand that I would never doubt the love of these kinds of followers of the Pakistan cricket team. Apart from the heartbreaks from genuine losses, they have suffered through the years from spot-fixing, ball tampering allegations, no cricket at home, in-fighting, politics within politics, to bumbling idiots as the head honchos and whatnot.

For us Pakistani cricket fans, abnormal is normal.

The love that one has for their favourite sports team is different than any other kind of love. It’s not bigger, it’s just different and probably gives a lot more sorrow than any other kind of love. The beef that I have with most Pakistani cricket fans is their fickle belief in their team. One loss and it’s all about how we should throw the whole team out because they sold out. One loss and half the team should retire. One loss and #BlameMisbah hash tags appear all across the Twitter world. But then, that’s where true love comes in and fickleness goes out.

The bottom line is when you love a sports team, you love it with all the baggage it comes with. You don’t just wait for them to lift the cup. That is not the defining moment. The defining moments are spread out across time; when you go to sleep thinking what combination would have worked out best, when you try and find all the faults the referee made in the match your team lost, when you can’t wait for the match to start, and, of course, three days before the actual match, when you are willing to start an argument with anyone that would dare to do so.

Those are the moments that define you as a sports fan.

Your wife accuses you of not giving any importance to anything else when the match is on, your mood for the dinner with guests after a big match will depend on the result, your friends curse you for spoiling an otherwise good plan because you don’t want to leave the house, and same friends start supporting the opposing team when they are stuck watching the game with you, just to tick you off.

That’s when you know you are a goner!

The Pakistani cricket team presents the most confusing paradox for any sports fan. It’s not a club team that you can choose to “unfollow” if they were as unfaithful as our team has been over the years. It’s your national side. You just cannot ignore it. You want them to do well. You need them to do well. There is already so much despair and negativity around, that it’s this bit of happiness that drives a nation wild.

We are a very unforgiving lot; sports fans, not Pakistanis. Well, maybe both of us. We cannot accept defeat. We will never look for the silver lining. But there is only so much you can argue about with the many people around you. You can’t force others to be empathetic. You have to listen to the know-it-alls and the “experts”. You fail miserably in defending a one-off innings or a certain bowling performance. Through all of that you still have to find that passion for the team you love.

The only unfortunate thing is that we live in a world of wicked needs and loose morals. Yet when you see the team fight its way to a victory, when you see the fight in the eyes of a Saeed Ajmal, the passion of a Younis Khan and the unrelenting charisma of Shahid Afridi, your heart soars.

This team is full of faults.

Muhammad Amir broke my heart. Muhammad Asif makes want you want to bang your head against any hard place. Salman Butt makes you… “@#%x&@#”.

But I will still sit in front of the TV when the next match comes on and watch it till the end. Because that’s what we sports lovers do. We stay till the end.

Oh, and my reply to my skeptic friend? Didn’t send him a reply, didn’t want to jinx anything. He, of course, did call me at the end, screaming with joy.

And, no, I didn’t call him a bandwagoner even then.

Follow Gul baz on Twitter @gbkhan2011

Gul.Baz.Khan

Gul Baz Khan

A banker with an immeasurable love for his wife and daughters, sports and movies who tweets @gbkhan2011

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hassan

    Yes, it is unconditional. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get angry at them.
    Parents love their children unconditionally, but they also get angry when their children don’t perform well in school.Recommend

  • Asif

    Excellent piece…. A good effort. Hope the nation can realise and get some learning out of it. Recommend

  • Ghazanfar

    Super article,,,,does not matter how the team plays but we just cant live without supporting our team!!!Recommend

  • Asma

    Good one..!Recommend

  • Hira

    Tum jeeto ya haaro humein tumse pyar hai.Recommend

  • Jawwad

    spot on…. the best part, “For us Pakistani cricket fans, abnormal is normal”, this is just so true.Recommend

  • Amyn Matani

    well written and completly agree with your sentiments. no matter what, will still sit in front of the TV and follow them till the end.

    cheers Recommend

  • Fahd

    Spot on!!!

    “For us Pakistani cricket fans, abnormal is normal”… nice one :) Recommend

  • http://www.happinesspodcast.org Happiness

    Happiness comes to them who opens their door for small treats that life provides to them. So be happy and live longer!Recommend

  • Doosam

    Very well written!! You have summed up the emotions and the tribulations of a real Pakistan cricket fan very aptly and I can relate to all of it. Those who truly appreciate the game in Pakistan are a rare breed as mostly you will find the emotionally driven fan who follows the team with his heart but knows little about the actual game itself.Recommend

  • Wajahat Ali Syed

    Dear GBK. Wonderful piece. However as a nasal dar nasal cricket fanatic; I reserve the right to consider my feelings, utterings and bashing much superior to the so called cricket experts especially commentators, who may well be ex-players but are intellectually sold.

    There I said it!Recommend

  • Gul Baz Khan

    @Wajahat Ali Syed:
    Shahji That’s exactly my point.. In a way.. :)Recommend

  • Fareed Muhammad Khan

    Well written Gul, very true to our core!

    I think only because most Pakistani’s are die-hard fans any/all actions of our cricket heroes are critically analyzed. It is this love of cricket and our players that produces such extreme reactions (joy/disappointment). Otherwise it would be like following our national football team ,-) Recommend

  • Afnan Ahmed

    Spot on Mr Gul Baz Khan, just spot on! :) Well written!Recommend