Speaking in English may not be Pakistan cricket players’ fundamental job, but it should be a part of their job

Published: June 16, 2017

In a world where there are numerous issues to be addressed, we get carried away by unnecessary matters a little too often. This is evident through the recent case of Sarfraz Ahmed’s off-the-record comments on the absence of Urdu reporters in a post-match press conference. Ahmed made these comments after Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka in a nail-biting match due to heroic efforts by the captain himself.

Even in his wildest dreams, Ahmed could not have imagined being mocked over something so insignificant, let alone becoming a trolling trend on social media. Most of our Pakistani cricketers do not have a strong grip on the English language and being able to speak in English is by no means a measure of one’s intellect. It is about time people realise that these players’ fundamental job is to play cricket, not to speak fluent English.

Ridiculing our players over their English-speaking abilities is not acceptable because English is not our mother tongue. But putting English aside, one can question whether our players’ ability to communicate in Urdu is good enough?

The truth is that even when some of our players are spoken to in Urdu, they do not have appropriate answers and usually end up becoming a part of unnecessary controversies due to their statements.

However, let’s understand that cricket is still a game which is played by nations which once were under colonial rule or a part of the Commonwealth, so its association with the English language is natural, contrary to other sports.

As a matter of principle, if a player is not able to communicate in English, no one has the right to mock him. On the contrary, I also do not subscribe to the views that these players are just meant for playing cricket.

All said and done, I personally believe these cricketers are the ambassadors of their respective countries and have to communicate with the international media, answer their tricky and at times pinching questions, in a language understood by most.

We actually become complacent when we subscribe to the views that these players are not supposed to know how to speak in English. It may not be their fundamental job, but it should at least be considered a part of their job.

Yes, many may not readily agree with this idea, but cricketers cannot be blamed for this because most of them hail from humble backgrounds and do not have educational opportunities. That’s where we should question our educational system and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Why is it that our education system isn’t able to produce enough individuals who are skilled at sports and have enough education and finesse to communicate on international platforms as well?

Most of the international cricketers are not necessarily graduates, because this sport demands copious amounts of time and energy. Unfortunately, numerous cricketers from the subcontinent have to give up their education after Matriculation or grade 12, but how is that we see so many Indian cricketers being able to communicate effectively in English?

PCB is equally responsible for not grooming our players and providing them with crash courses during their off-seasons so that they may learn the aforementioned skills. PCB has enough money to throw on the board of governing members, however, when it comes to grooming our players, it acts extremely miserly.

So if we accept the idea that these players are not necessarily required to speak in English, we are letting many people off the hook, especially PCB and our education system.

The story does not end here.

We already have only a few cricketing resources that represent Pakistan on international fronts such as Rameez RajaWasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Former Indian cricketers easily outweigh us in this department and it is our lack of English-speaking skills which has led to our absence from the International Cricket Council (ICC) forum. The ICC is also primarily responsible for tweaking various cricketing rules, and resultantly our players tend to miss out. Only a handful of our big names have made it to superior platforms after their departure from the cricketing field. Unfortunately, we as a nation have not yet realised the significance of having our voices heard on international fronts.

A presser from Virat Kohli will help substantiate my point.

Interaction and communication between players helps them learn new skills, strategies, and gain mental composure. For years, various international stars have benefited from other team players by imparting their valuable experience, so if we become complacent in our approach of not learning this language, our players will be reluctant in communicating with cricketers from other countries.

We need to revisit our understanding and pressurise PCB to draft an effective policy on this matter and implement it, otherwise the mocking will continue to surface time and again. Keep in mind that this mocking was not about Ahmed, it was actually directed towards Pakistan. The sooner we learn, the better it will be for us in the long run.

Muneeb Imran

Muneeb Imran

The writer is an Avid cricket follower and nerd of the game who lives in Saudi Arabia and follows Pakistan cricket whereever it goes.

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