August 20, 2005

Afro Asia Cup - 'Cricket-sans-borders'

The Afro Asian Cricket Cup hosted in South Africa is doing what even a United Nations initiative couldn't. It has brought age-old arch rivals India and Pakistan together to play as the Asian team along with Sri Lanka against the African team comprising of nations such as Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. It is a feat of no small measure to see the flags of India and Pakistan hoisted together to cheer for every run that was scored by the Asian team. Pre-partition brotherhood prevails as a Shoaib Akhtar exchanges bowling strategies with a Nehra, all the while with an arm flung around his team mates shoulder. Who needs a UN when there's cricket around!

Cricket, a sport introduced in the Indian sub continent by the British during the colonial era, is literally the pulse beat of both Pakistan and India. Ironically, it is this legacy of the British colonists, who were responsible for the India Pakistan partition in 1947, that is today creating new bonds between the two warring nations that not long ago were on the brink of a nuclear war.

What is happening in South Africa this week is a globalizers dream come true. I am watching a cricket match between Asia and Africa being played in Durban, live and for free, on a regular TV channel in the USA, where the majority of the population recognize cricket only as an insect! Cadillac, an American company, is the local US network sponsor for the event, and Standard Chartered Bank, a British multinational is the chief sponsor in S. Africa. The African team is sporting the Sahara logo. Sahara which is an Indian conglomerate that usually sponsors the Indian national team!

Just recently, I remember reading in a US newspaper that at least three of the suspects in the terrorist bombings in London were avid cricket players. As a result many Americans recognize cricket as the sport associated with those bombing suspects. So I was pleasantly surprised today, while watching the 2nd cricket match being played at Durban, how the same game was now forging old ties and making new bonds that defied both, national boundaries and age old political differences! Cricket has great potential for soothing freyed feathers and tempering raging infernos.

Kofi Annan may want to borrow a page from the Afro Asian Cup model in order to forge ties between countries at war. For a start organize a soccer match where USA and Iraq play as one team pitched against the rest of the world! After that we may not need a Rice or a Rumsfeld to strategize the US pull out from Iraq.

Cricket-sans-borders could indeed become a model, at least in the cricket loving world, of what a globalized world would look like; a world without boundaries.

1 comment:

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