‘CRICKET is war minus the shooting.’ It is especially true when the sub-continental teams of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh take part in ICC cricket matches anywhere in the world. The atmosphere prevailing at that time becomes too hot for the fans to remain cool. So they become restive to a great extent.
India and Pakistan fought in 1947, 1965, and 1999 over Kashmir issue. Pakistan and Bangladesh fought in 1971. India sided with Bangladesh. This war was on the issue of the erstwhile East Pakistan’s liberation. Pakistan lost and had to withdraw from the present-day Bangladesh territory. Citizens of Bangladesh are largely hateful for the atrocious behaviour of the then Pakistani armed forces and their masterminds. On the other hand, India was once our opponent when we belonged to the erstwhile East Pakistan. The elderly people, in many cases, cannot overcome their ill feeling against India as was maintained before 1971.
As a result, the quoted phrase of George Orwell is best suited for the cricket fans of these aforesaid three countries. When there is a match, there is a war. Exchange of explosive words takes place just before a match. One ‘little boy’ is returned by ‘a fat man’, killing millions of soft feelings nurtured by the opponent tent. Even if no such tongue lashing is there, there are speculative media attacks with clandestine motive to lower down the opponent team, such as the advertisement on Pakistan television that mocked the IAF officer Abhinandan Varthaman. The promotional advertisement was released before he India-Pakistan World Cup match on June 16. The advert shows that the air force officer of India (actor) was being quizzed by Pakistani officials. He looks nervous and is made to leave the tea cup he was drinking from before he departs. The tea cup symbolises the World Cup. What a genius the devil had to offer in the brain of the creator of the television advert! But Pakistan lost the match putting the tea cup upside down. Now Indian fans say that Pakistan is destined for the tea cup, not the original World Cup.
It is only a couple of days ago on July 5, the cricket match between Pakistan and Bangladesh took place at the cricket ground of Lord’s. Before this game, torrents of status with emotional words were posted on Facebook pages by Bangladeshi fans. Some of these had direct reference to our liberation war. Indirectly, they gave a challenge that the defeated Pakistanis would also be crushed this time. Now that Bangladesh has lost the game, does it take away anything from our glorious battle for independence? No, not at all. Sport is sport. A battle is a battle. But why should people swear that way by the sweetest memories of history when there is a possibility of loss in the wager that may put the pride of the nation at stake?
There are many things you cannot say in public. You may be boiling with bad feeling when you meet a Pakistani on an international forum, but you cannot tell him your inner mental happenings. If you are of the opinion that there should not be any transaction with past enemies, it is better for you not to play any football or cricket match with them. If you play, you should keep your emotion bridled within you so that it does not get ventilated. In games, expressing inner feelings means you are giving an alert call to the opponent for his self fortification. It also brings some extra pressure on our own players. Pressure is no good for sports. An open challenge is also not advisable as you are not supposed to win all the matches. Words have to be diplomatic when you are not certain that you are totally right in your assumption.
Gazi Mizanur Rahman is a writer and former civil servant.
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