Sunday, April 13, 2008

PCB's Pakistan or ICL's Pakistan?

I have been reporting on the Australians who have taken the IPL by storm. Coaches, assistant coaches, domestic players, strength trainers - you name it and the IPL teams have these Aussies on their pay roll.

One glance at the other 20-20 league and you see that its the Pakistanis who are making the ICL their very own.

The Lahore Badshahs was an all Pakistani outfit that made it to the finals of the ICL Edelweiss 20s Challenge with an unbeaten run of 7 wins. In the finals they were stopped by another Pakistani, Abdul Razzak, who also won the player of the series award.

Lahore Badshahs won a lot of hearts in India and the public back in Pakistan followed them with intent. People around Dubai were also buzzing about how good the Badshahs looked.

Inzamam's leadership, the fielding, the attacking strokeplay from Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, and Hasan Raza were all admired.

Mushy's guile and Saqlain taking wickets again reminded everyone about the great spinners Pakistan used to once have.

Azhar Mahmood showed how he has been treated so unfairly by the Pakistan selectors. And Abdul Razzak made sure that the PCB and its selectors have a lot more than just egg left on their face.

The Badshahs success and popularity across India, Pakistan, and elsewhere also led the ICL to hastily organize a 3-way tournament including teams from Pakistan, India, and a World XI.

The ICL have siezed on the classic India-Pakistan rivalry and it has given their league a new look altogether.

But what does this mean for Pakistan?

Domestic stars have left their departments and regional teams high and dry to play in India. Inzamam is leading a Pakistan XI, which can easily pass of as an international team. And the public is actually enjoying watching a Pakistan team that looks unbeatable. It doesn't matter who the competition is.

Is this good?

Initially I thought it was great since it brought an altogether different atmosphere to the ICL. But going forward if the Lahore Badshahs / ICL Pakistan do become the invincibles within the league, the fans will be somewhat divided. Who would watch an international side that easily beats the minnows but looks like one itself when facing tougher competition?

Already the public is more interested in the progress of ICL Pakistan in the ICL 20s World Series than it is in the on going international series against Bangladesh.

I heard that a victory parade in Lahore was being planned for the Lahore Badshahs before Razzak came to spoil the party. The same is being planned for ICL Pakistan if they win the 20s World Series. I can already sense the buzz around such a victory parade if it does happen.

The cricket starved Pakistani public will appear in thousands to watch Inzamam and his troops on a bus top driving from the airport to the Gaddafi or wherever else. Would they even care that the international team is playing Bangladesh?

Kapil Dev has announced that they are looking to take the ICL to Pakistan. In the next season the ICL will look to hold the Badshahs' matches in Lahore and Karachi. Talks are already taking place for this to happen in October. Its a great business move considering the interest the Badshahs have created in Pakistan.

But it definitely divides the public.

Imagine what would happen when an international team is touring Pakistan in October. There will be an ODI going on in the Gaddafi with Shoaib Malik and his men taking on Australia or South Africa. At the same time, Inzamam's Badshahs will be taking on the Hyderabad Heroes at the Lahore Gymkhana or the Garrison Cricket Ground.

Where would you go? Who would you rather watch?

There's a certain nostalgic factor associated with the Badhshahs. At the same time they are playing more exciting cricket than the international Pakistan team. The public is anti-PCB and the Badshahs boasts of players who have been projected as those treated unfairly by the cricket board.

The public's sentiment is with the Badshahs / ICL Pakistan.

The Pakistanis have 2 teams to support on the world stage. We may be fortunate but its also a dilemma. I hope the international team is not lost among the hype the Badshahs create.

I want the Badshahs' / ICL Pakistan's success but not at the expense of Pakistan's international team.

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. Unknown said...

    I agree with you, but don't you think that there is some reason why pakistanis are very much active in ICL whereas Indians are still with international team. Pakistan Cricket board have been always incosistent with its approach, team selection etc. It has created a sense of insecurity in the players. That's why they are looking for other avenues.
    Moreove, by rejecting the ICL, cricket boards have lost the opportunity of promoting and encouraging new talent.

  2. Q said...

    Welcome to Well Pitched Abhi.

    I agree, it is the way the PCB has handled or rather mishandled a lot of stuff is what has led all these cricketers towards the ICL.

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