‘After Lahore’

‘After Lahore’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books, March 26, 2009

The immediate casualty of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore earlier this month will be the future of cricket in Pakistan. A few optimists point out that the Munich massacre didn’t bring the 1972 Olympics to a halt. But I doubt whether even Zimbabwe could now be induced to come and play at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Who can blame them? Pakistan’s captain, Younus Khan, who scored a triple century in the Karachi test a few days before the atrocity, is in mourning. ‘When I was a boy,’ he said,

I loved watching Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram playing against great teams from overseas. It is because of them, seeing them play, that I also played the game. But what if no one comes to Pakistan? How will the youngsters know about the game? What will they do? It would be very easy right now for the ICC and the bosses to say there will be no cricket in Pakistan, but the future will not be good if cricket is taken away from my country.

Many from less educated backgrounds would say the same. Cricket is extremely popular in the slums. Pakistan will now play against foreign teams only in foreign countries, every home match now also an away match. Many poor families have no electricity, let alone television sets. No cricket for them. read more