The 7 stages of grief a Pakistani cricket fan experiences

Published: November 23, 2013
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“How could they lose this!? They had the game in their hands and they just casually collapsed like that.” The shock which every Pakistani cricket fan goes thorough after a loss. PHOTO: AFP

It’s not easy to be a Pakistan cricket fan, really. Now that the country is deprived of home games, the team is always on tour, which consequently increases the challenge to perform and win games. Simultaneously, supporters have to tune into live telecasts at odd hours of the day – sometimes dawn, sometimes midnight.

The fans continue to do so, but off late, as a result of the team’s dismal displays, high blood pressure might be on its way to becoming a common illness in the nation. Pakistan has never quite been a consistent outfit, but lately, failures have considerably outnumbered triumphs.

Relationships can only remain steady if they are mutual. Pakistan’s relationship with cricket is nothing less than one which involves genuine love, support and passion; one which involves countless compromises and sacrifices. However, the tables have taken a sharp turn as this relationship has become rather one sided.

Supporters continue to shower their support yet the cricket team continues to disappoint. Disappointment has possibly touched its lowest ebb in history, a disappointment which can safely be metaphorically dubbed as a break-up between the cricket team and its die-hard followers.

Like most heart-broken lovers after break-ups, Pakistan cricket fans are currently going through the following stages:

Shock 

“How could they lose this!? They had the game in their hands and they just casually collapsed like that.”

This is a common phrase among supporters five minutes after courageously rooting for the green team to chase down a reasonable (sometimes very easy) target. Pakistan’s batting line-up has a habit of falling like a set of dominoes after the opposition breaks a crucial partnership. Such losses can be very hard to digest for a cricket fan who has been visualising the moment of victory since the past hour and a half. Sadly, the only questions left in his mind after the game are:

“What?”

“How!?”

“Seriously???”

Denial

While still recovering from the shock, the fan goes into the next stage; denial. A sub-state of shock, denial can be very lethal, for one completely refuses to accept the fact that Pakistan has, yet again, thrown away a game that surely seemed to be in the pocket. Any criticism of the players at this point would not be tolerated, for they are undisputed heroes and this defeat did just not take place! It’s just a bad dream, it’ll be over soon. The laws of gravity just don’t seem to agree with what has happened.

Isolation

“Leave me alone! I want to deal with this all by myself”

This is a fan’s reaction when the topic of cricket is raised again. This rage certainly is not due to anger, but due to the grief. During this period, the fan will watch highlights of old and famous victories and lookup videos of the many yorkers bowled by superstars of the past. The more devoted fans could go to the extent of memorising batting averages of former greats and watch entire documentaries based on the mastery of world cup winning skipper Imran Khan. Many fall prey to the glory days of the past and revert back to their hardcore support for team Pakistan, while the rest move on to stage four.

Anger

“They should be tried and hanged for being this incompetent on international level!”

The period of grief has most certainly ended by now, as it is completely taken over by uncontrollable fury at all times. Not one good word is said about the cricket team during this period, as they are constantly cursed for repeating their mistakes over and over again. The anger can sometimes be very irrational as players aren’t given credit even when they achieve that rare moment of success. At this point, you can’t seem to comprehend how you have wasted hours and hours of your life watching third grade cricket played by a spiritless bunch of losers who ‘play for themselves’ rather than the flag.

Bargaining

“The real root of all problems is that captain I tell you. He is just way too defensive!” said one Pakistani fan to another.

The other replied,

“No sir, it’s the coach who has got it all wrong. We need to change our team management at once! The selectors better open their eyes for once.”

This stage is one where the fan constantly brain storms for the many reasons responsible for the trend of defeats. Several changes are proposed during heated arguments, always boiling down to chaotic rubbish with no clear solution. However, the fan continues to firmly believe that there must be a way out, a loophole that could fix everything.

Depression

This is the point where the fan realises that the glory days are long gone, and all that is left are memories. You finally come to terms with the magnitude of what has been lost and it seems all too overwhelming all of a sudden. Nostalgia is common during this period, as one constantly reminisces about the battles won and the trophies lifted. The feeling of helplessness seems to be fatal; as you watch the team deteriorate into a sorry fragment of what it once used to be. All hope is lost and you feel that constant agony is something you are going to have to learn to deal with.

Acceptance

The fan has finally arrived at the final stage; the stage of acceptance. Whether the team wins or loses, the supporter is now indifferent as he is certain that Pakistan’s future as a cricketing nation does not look bright. The many problems with the system are there to stay and the players have lost all confidence in their ability. Cricket isn’t coming back to Pakistan in the foreseeable future, while the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is yet again victim to the never ending squabbles. Players continue to dedicate their time and energy towards T20 cricket which pays the bills, while temperament is slowly becoming a lost art. This might be all negative thought, but this is what the relationship has sadly resorted to. The supporter has lost the optimistic approach he once used to have and has accepted the fact that Pakistan is not a cricket superpower anymore.

All said and done, the fan’s love for Pakistan cricket is beyond imagination and any sort of effort by the team can result in consolidation of this strong bond.

It must be stressed upon that this hindrance is not caused by the absence of wins, but by the lack of commitment shown by the team. Now it’s up to Pakistan to show some spirit and put up a brave face on the field.

The winning intent is all the Pakistani fans truly crave for – the same aggressive body language Pakistan has been famous throughout the course of history. All love is not lost and team Pakistan must change their ways by playing positive and constructive cricket to win back the adulation and respect of their enthusiastic fan base; one that has stood by them through thick and thin.

behram.qazi

Behram Qazi

The author is a Management Engineering graduate from the University of Waterloo. Patriotic Pakistani, devoted sports fanatic and part-time sports analyst on PTV World. He tweets as @Behram22 (twitter.com/Behram22)

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

  • Anshuman Tripathy

    As a die hard Indian cricket lover who has spent his entire childhood watching India play during the 90’s, I can totally relate to this.Believe it or not we used to go through these exact 7 stages every time India played a strong team like Australia or South Africa and lost. There was a time when our batting line up would cave in like a house of cards everytime Sachin got out, Our bowling and fielding were absolutely horrible (with the exception of Kumble,jadeja & azharudin), nepotism used to rule the roost during the selection process(if you watch some old videos of indian cricket from the 90’s you’ll see many mediocre players whose names ppl have completely forgotten now) and the Match fixing scandal which broke out in 2000 totally uprooted my faith in the boys in blue.
    Thankfully things have changed since the Ganguly-captainship era & even more so after Dhoni became captain. Although I still feel we could use a decent fast bowler who can swing the ball both ways (shami is one such find) in our team, the current crop of players are a passionate bunch that inspire a billion fans to support them every time they step into play.
    I have always had a fascination with Pakistan’s ability to churn out so many brilliant fast bowlers consitently. I used to idolize Inzamam’s brilliant captaincy & his batting skills, Waseem Akram’s reverse swinging yorker and Imran Khan’s all round brilliance on the field.
    I hope Pakistan cricket goes back to its glory days once again so that we get many more memorable IND vs PAK cliffhangers that we used to see in the 90’s.I remember watching an India-Pak ODI match in chennai as a kid and man the energy in the ground was something else. Watching an indo-pak match, or infact any match that pakistan plays nowadays doesn’t give me that feeling anymore.Recommend

  • Proletarian

    Cricket is dead and its all because of the damn Tableeghi fatsos.Recommend

  • Blunt

    Though I don’t think your comment even worth a reply, (even getting published, not sure what ET moderator was thinking while going through it) but forcefully just want to tell you that you’ve no idea of what cricket is all about. You are here just to spread the negativity and your prejudices. So it would be better if you keep both to yourself.Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    i think these two nations give too much importance to a sport, which lets get real, is nothing more than a elite club instead of a real sports.
    its not even in the olympics

    and while other sports are systematically neglectedRecommend