Pakistani cricket fans: Must our sentiments for our team always be extreme?
It has been interesting following the sentiments of Pakistanis on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter through this current World T20 tournament being held in Sri Lanka.
The emotions expressed towards the national side ─ depending on the match results ─ have either bordered on hero worship, or have been overly harsh admonishments. Even outside of social media, reactions on the streets have been fairly extreme: after Pakistan’s unlikely victory against South Africa, celebratory gunfire could be heard across the night sky all over Karachi. However, in the next match, where Pakistan was thoroughly outplayed by India, conversation in the streets revolved around how hopeless the team was, with the previous result forgotten.
Some of this is understandable, considering that we as a nation have less to cheer about than we should. I feel, however, that our reactions are out of proportion, and undoubtedly put our team under far greater pressure than necessary.
If the Pakistan cricket team was a child, and we its parents, our trembling boy would probably be quite neurotic. He would always be on his toes around us, conditioned by the contrasting mixture of hugs and slaps he had grown up on.
Yes my friends, we are that psycho parent all the kids whispered about in school. The sort of emotional rollercoaster of a parent, who disappointed by every other facet of his life, now tightly and aggressively hangs on to every achievement of his child.
Sometimes, people need room to grow, and not everyone can handle the extra pressure.
After Pakistan outclassed Australia in its final Super Eights group match, India, in order to qualify for the knockout stage, had to beat South Africa by a significant margin in order to raise its run-rate to an acceptable level. After India’s own innings ended, they were left with the highly improbable task of restricting the opposition to 121 runs.
When Indian captain MS Dhoni came out with his eleven boys in blue, he cleverly attacked the opposition by bringing in his fielders, to limit the easier runs. Essentially, he had to try and make something from nothing, and for a short while, he almost did.
With the singles and doubles throttled, South Africa resorted to riskier strokes, and lost three wickets fairly quickly. Eventually, it turned out to a be a lost cause, but the Indian captain’s strategy sharply contrasted with the tactics of Pakistani captain Mohammad Hafeez, who during the tournament has sometimes lead his side like a man who is too afraid to lose.
Regardless of whether a team is a large multinational organisation, or a small group of athletes playing for national glory, the leadership of any group can be pivotal. There is a reason why CEOs of massive companies are paid huge salaries, and a lot of their performance depends on their skill and their ability to perform under pressure, but it goes without saying that much also depends on how well they are handled. Those who sign up for such high profile jobs know that they are about to land on the hot seat, but make the seat too hot and no one will want to sit on it, regardless of compensation.
The difference between the leader of an organisation and the cricket captain of Pakistan is that the only reward for a Pakistani captain is pleasing us, the cricket fans.
It the Pakistan cricket team and its captain answer to us, the viewing public, then perhaps by not being as supportive as we should be, we are making it too difficult for them to do their jobs. If they are so afraid of a potential backlash at home, how will they play bold and gutsy cricket, which is now an automatic requirement in the highly competitive cricketing world?
How often have Pakistani cricket teams flown home in secrecy because they are afraid of how they will be treated by their fans? How often are the homes of cricketers stoned and pelted after losing in a tournament where they did incredibly well to get to the knockout stage?
Why is it that aside from the fearless Imran Khan, we haven’t had a successful and well-respected Pakistani cricket captain?
I don’t know whether Pakistan will win this tournament or not, but I know that I am proud of our accomplishments so far. If you are a Pakistan fan reading this, so should you. Regardless of how things go from here, let’s show them some love whether we win the semi-final tonight or not!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.